I’m a Chatterbox’s CCA Oaks DQ a given
None, zilch, nada.
Not one day after the Saratoga stewards’ questionable decision to disqualify Magna Light in the Sanford.
Going back and watching the Sanford replay on Sunday still prompts a jumping-out-of-your-seat-and-yelling-at-the-screen reaction.
The CCA Oak produced a different response altogether, especially if you were rooting for I’m a Chatterbox.
More like a head-dropping-in-your-hands reflex, with a groan-of-disbelief thrown in for good measure.
I’m a Chatterbox was making her first start back in the CCA Oaks off a third-place run in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (G1), where the Larry Jones trainee was far behind early and left herself with too much to do in the stretch.
This time, jockey Florent Geroux immediately sent his chestnut mount to the front from her far outside post. The Munnings filly proceeded to set the pace while pressured the entire way. Conquest Eclipse and Keen Pauline were both right up close and never let up on the backstretch.
Entering the turn, Conquest Eclipse suddenly backed up drastically. Last-out Acorn S. (G1) winner Curalina, who had also been keeping within range, moved up to take her place.
I’m a Chatterbox still maintained the advantage in the lane, but Curalina was relentless. The Todd Pletcher-trained chestnut kept eating away at I’m a Chatterbox’s advantage until suddenly her rival came over and bumped her right at the line.
The small hit knocked both fillies off stride, with I’m a Chatterbox shifting to her left lead while Curalina quickly recovered her momentum.
The damage was done, though, as the wire had come and gone.
I’m a Chatterbox finished a nose in front of Curalina on the line while stopping the clock for 1 1/8 miles over the fast main track in 1:49.74 .
The inquiry sign almost immediately lit up and not long after an objection was lodged from Curalina’s rider, John Velazquez. While Jones and Geroux watched, I’m a Chatterbox was disqualified and placed second, leaving Pletcher the recipient of yet another win via DQ following Saturday’s Sanford.
Curalina’s connections, while overjoyed, still took time to commiserate with Jones and Geroux. Those two were also the first to congratulate the elevated winner’s connections. It didn’t matter who won, class prevailed in the CCA Oaks winner’s circle on this day.
Having conquered the hurdle of 1 1/8 miles, Curalina is now set to take on the 10-furlong Alabama S. (G1). That August 22 contest at the Spa should prove an exciting rematch between I’m a Chatterbox and her new foe.
"I was coming to get him (I'm a Chatterbox)," said John Velazquez. "He took her out and she bumped me and my horse switched to the left lead. Now, I'm unbalanced and then I had to get after her to get her back in and I just missed the wire. I knew two jumps before the wire, I was going to get him. When she got bumped and went to her left lead, she lost her balance, I lost my balance. I had to get back on her and just missed it. No doubt in my mind, I was going to get her."
"Based on the comments Johnny made, he felt very sure he was going by that filly until that happened," said Todd Pletcher, whose Uncle Vinny was moved up to first based on a disqualification in Saturday's Grade 3 Sanford. "It's hard to appreciate while you are watching it live. After seeing that she came back one jump after the wire and put her nose in front, I feel a little less apologetic about this one. Yesterday, we weren't bothered. We were the beneficiary of someone else being bothered. In this particular case, our filly was knocked off stride in a critical point in the race and got beat a couple inches. In my eyes, it probably made the difference. I'm sure there are other people that feel differently but based on what Johnny said, just watching it there, I would have to agree."
"I thought she ran very well, coming off a long layoff like that," said Larry Jones. "She took a little time off and was good to go. We set very legitimate fractions and [still] to hold on, I'm thrilled with the horse. The jock rode a great race; he didn't do anything to cause it. He stuck with the right hand the whole way. She kind of jumped the tracks where the gate comes across but you need to get the horse back over somehow. That's just the way it goes."
Trainer Leah Gyarmati on scratching Wonder Gal:
"I worked her, and she came out of the work fine but she didn't eat up 100 percent. I was already thinking that these races were a little too close together right now, especially since she's run so hard in her last couple. We'll skip this and see what our options between now and the Alabama. I'll kind of play it by ear. I'm just going to wait for her to tell me when she's ready."
Curalina (outside) & I'm a Chatterbox (inside) photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography
Todd Pletcher & Larry Jones photo courtesy of NYRA/Susie Raisher/Adam Coglianese Photography