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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Trainer Mike Maker’s Chess’s Dream skimmed the rail to take the lead at the top of the stretch and post the 8/1 upset in Saturday’s $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from the rail under Tyler Gaffalione, Chess’s Dream settled into a stalking position inside of It’s a Gamble and Sigiloso.
Up front, Original refused to yield the lead to Kentucky Pharoah and Never Surprised, forcing the latter’s jockey to pull back.
After posting opening fractions of :23.30, :47.54, and 1:11.90, Original and Kentucky Pharoah came under fire when the field neared the top of the stretch.
Gaffalione kept Chess’s Dream pinned to the rail, a move that paid off handsomely when a hole appeared that allowed Chess’s Dream to fly through.
Successfully clearing off a furlong out, Chess’s Dream crossed 2 lengths clear while completing the firm turf mile in 1:35.18.
“I knew there was going to be a lot of speed,” Gaffalione said. “It kind of surprised me when (Original) committed early, but I had the perfect position down on the fence. I was able to save ground. On the far turn, it looked like (Original) was trying to get out a little bit. I didn’t panic and a hole opened up, and when I asked him, he really accelerated. He’s a long-striding colt. He’ll just get better the longer he goes.”
The 1/5 favorite, Never Surprised was keyed up while being asked to pull out of the early pace duel but had the class to take second by a pair of noses over Original and Sigiloso.
Kentucky Pharoah and It’s a Gamble completed the order of finish.
Chao was scratched from the race restricted to 3-year-olds.
Chess’s Dream’s win was his seccond straight following a maiden-breaking score over this course last month against fellow Florida-breds and improved his record to 5-2-2-0. The 3-year-old Jess’s Dream colt, purchased for $25,000 as a yearling, has now earned $108,980 for co-owners Michael Dubb, Steven Bouchey, Bethlehem Stables, and Chester Bishop, who co-entered him in Sunday’s $200,000 Texas Turf Mile Stakes at Sam Houston.
“It’s very nice when you make the right decision (about where to run),” Dubb said. “It’s definitely a 50-50 proposition. I held my breath and made sure he’d be able to get through. He got through and he was much the best, so we’re just over the moon.”
Chess’s Dream returned $18.60 to win, $4.20 to place, and $2.80 to show. Never Surprised brought back $2.20 to place and $2.10 to show, while Oriignal paid $3.80 to show.
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