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Chichakly Ready to Saddle First Starter
Chichakly (salmon dress) in the Saratoga winner's circle after Sippican Harbor won the 2018 Spinaway (Credit: NYRA)

Chichakly Ready to Saddle First Starter

ELMONT, NY – After spending 10 years on and off as an assistant to recently-retired trainer Gary Contessa, Amira Chichakly is ready to saddle her first starter whenever live racing returns to Belmont Park.

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Chichakly has a stable of 17 horses under her care, most of which transferred to her care after Contessa announced in March that his 35-year career was ending. Among the accomplishments she helped Contessa reach was winning the 2018 Spinaway Stakes (G1) with Sippican Harbor, but rather than looking for the next big event to win, Chichakly has a more reasonable goal to meet first.

“I would just like to race,” she said. “Can we start there? My first goal is to get in the paddock to saddle a horse. … Beyond that, it’s hard to think too far ahead right now. I’d like to always have a tight barn. I’m not looking to become a big trainer right away. I’d like to keep my stock around the number it is right now and know that I’m doing everything right with those horses and watch them grow to their potential. I’d like to see each horse I work with perform to the best of their ability.”

Chichakly said that time spent with Contessa, along with a year in Kentucky with Wayne Catalano, taught her several key traits to becoming a successful trainer on her own.

“Being patient is a big one,” she said. “Every horse is different and there are some horses where you have to stop yourself and realize they’re not going to move at your pace on your schedule. And there are others that will make you realize you’re babying them too much and they’re ready to move on.”

When live racing does return to the Empire State, Chichakly is ready to unleash Liam’s Fire, a Virginia-bred 3-year-old Bayern colt who faced some of his crop’s heavy hitters before breaking his maiden at third asking.

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“He broke his maiden on the dirt and Gary always wanted to try him on the turf,” she said. “I got on him a week or two ago and he’s one of the nicest horses I’ve ever ridden. They were laughing at me in the barn because once I got on him, I couldn’t stop talking about him. … We’re going to try and get him in a turf race and hopefully he’ll perform the way we think he can. Getting on him, he’s so powerful and there’s just so much horse there. He has a beautiful stride and you can feel something in him. It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you know it.”

Chichakly feels that she has at least one promising juvenile in her stable as well. Bustin Bieber, a New York-bred son of Bustin Stones, has recorded two timed works at Belmont Park and could be on his way to earning big dollars as part of the lucrative New York-bred program.

“He’s a very typical 2-year-old colt,” said Chichakly. “He has plenty of attitude and no idea where to put it, but when he gets into a work, he’s like an older horse and knows what he’s doing. I’ve enjoyed watching him train. Although he’s only worked a couple times thus far, I’m liking his potential. … It’s a fun process to watch them grow and figure things out.”

Followers of the NYRA circuit will likely say the same thing of Chichakly this summer.

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