A cinch for Chace The Great
TERRIBLY drawn at post-position two when making his seasonal debut at 1000 metres straight, two or so weeks ago, CHACE THE GREAT gets his pet trip in the 1300-metre Ash Wednesday Trophy, down in class to boot.
Actually, the four-year-old chestnut gelding was already down in class when he returned off a two-month lay-up on February 11, rested after his exertions in the Grade I Diamond Mile on December 10.
After beating overnight company on September 25, CHACE THE GREAT placed second behind back-to-form CRUCIAL APPEAL, 1:05.1 at 1100 metres, in open allowance on October 22.
He afterwards skipped class, jumping to grade one, and placed third, beaten three-and-a-quarter lengths, in the Caribbean Sprint behind CAMPESINO and BUZZ NIGHTMARE, a race run in 1:10.4.
Unable to resist the lure of the $13.5m Diamond Mile a month later, trainer Dwight Chen kept CHACE THE GREAT in Grade I, essentially a futile attempt to beat the best horses in the country outside his distance.
Nevertheless, he ran well for the first six furlongs, seventh down the backstretch, no more than five lengths off the pace. He actually improved his position entering the straight, turning for home fifth, seven lengths off, chasing a six-furlong split of 1:10.4.
Having served his four months in open-allowance jail and twice tested the choppy waters of Grade I during his time spent behind bars, CHACE THE GREAT was sent off a 1-2 favourite on his return to overnight.
However, in his first attempt at 1000 metres straight, he stubbornly drifted to the stands' side from three furlongs out, having only three runners behind in the 11-horse field when he entered the main track, 14 lengths off the lead.
He only started stretching out inside the last half furlong, closing fast to finish fourth, a length-and-three-quarter behind KING D's 57.4.
Though he faces in-form horses such as BIRDIE MY LOVE (formerly BIRD CATCHER), DANCING QUEEN and last year's champion two-year-old, SOTOMAYOR, CHACE THE GREAT should use speed and class to stamp his superiority.
Chen took the speedster out for a six-furlong spin last Thursday morning and he clocked 1:14.3, putting to rest any thought that unsoundness could have caused his wayward run 12 days earlier.