Dixie Chatter Shouts Potential in Norfolk Win

Dixie Chatter Shouts Potential in Norfolk Win
Photo: Benoit
Dixie Chatter sings perfect tune in Norfolk win.
Dixie Chatter, slowed this season by treatment for a throat ulcer, produced the strongest effort of his career in winning the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) on the Santa Anita Cushion Track for trainer Richard Mandella.

A son of 1999 Norfolk winner Dixie Union for Mandella, the 2-year-old colt Dixie Chatter wrestled the lead from the pacesetter Dodgen Bullets near the furlong marker and held favored Salute the Sarge at bay under mild urging from jockey Richard Migliore. Dixie Chatter should have plenty left for a shot at the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Monmouth Park Oct. 27 should owner/breeder Herman Sarkowsky decide to go that way.

“He got a good trip and everything went great," Mandella said. "It’s on to the Breeders’ Cup if all goes well.”

Sarkowsky, along with Diamond A Racing, also owned and bred Dixie Union, who exited his Norfolk win to to finish fifth in the '99 Juvenile at Gulfstream Park.

Mandella said training Dixie Chatter has sentimental value because of the colt's lineage. "This family’s raised my family. Phone Trick, Phone Chatter, Dixie Union ... this one’s mother (Mini Chat, by Deputy Minister) couldn’t run much but she produced this horse, so it goes back a long way and it’s raised my kids and kept my wife (Randi) in the fashion she’s accustomed to, thank God.”

After breaking his maiden with a one-length win over eventual Del Mar Futurity (gr. I) winner Georgie Boy July 1, Dixie Chatter went to the sidelines for a two-month period. He was out of training for couple of weeks while being treated for the ulcer, Mandella said. He returned in the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity, gaining the lead inside the eighth pole but tiring late to finish fifth, 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Mandella was not surprised the bay colt was a little short in his comeback try.

Dixie Chatter bobbled at the start of the 1 1/16-mile Norfolk but managed to work his way through the field of nine to be in contention at the final turn. Dodgen Bullets clipped off early fractions of :23 1/5, :47 1/5 and 1:11 1/5. Dixie Chatter, angled toward the inside on the far turn, emerged from between horses to challenge the stubborn Dodgen Bullets in the lane. He gained the lead mid-stretch and slowly edged away.

Salute the Sarge, meanwhile, appeared all in after chasing the pace in a wide trip. He fell back a little bit leaving the final bend. But as is his style, 'Sarge responded to strong urging from jockey David Flores to grind his way into making a race of it. Dixie Chatter outran his rival in deep stretch, coming home 1 1/4 lengths in front in a time of 1:42 3/5. Shore Do came on for third with jockey Mike Smith, finishing three lengths behind the winner.

Dixie Chatter was making his first start around two turns. Migliore attributed the colt's improvement to a willingness to relax.

"I moved with him going to the quarter pole and we hit the front earlier than I wanted to, but I felt like I had to move when I did to secure my position," the jockey said. "When he made the lead, he seemed to idle a bit. I think he’s going to improve as the distances get longer. He’s very athletic and he’s the kind of horse who likes to have horses to chase.”

Dixie Chatter won for the second time in four starts, bumping his earnings to $191,400. He paid $7.80, $3.80 and $3 as the second choice.

The grade II winner Salute the Sarge, who ran second in the Del Mar Futurity after winning his first three starts for trainer Eric Guillot, returned $3.20 and $2.60 as the 9-5 choice.

"No excuses today, other than we chased the speed all the way around and we were the only one that finished," Guillot said. "It kind of set up a little bit better for Dixie Chatter, but that’s horse racing.”

Asked about the Breeders’ Cup, he added: “We’d be stupid not to go try it on a dirt track. He’s bred for a dirt track and he’s a big, heavy horse and everybody says big, heavy horses don’t like synthetic tracks. He might be hating the track all along and be that good. We don’t know that yet. He’s never been on a dirt track.”

Shore Do, coming off a one-mile maiden-breaking score on the Del Mar turf Aug. 22 for conditioner Chuck Peery, was $3.40 to show.

Beresford was half-length back in fourth, followed by Dodgen Bullets, Drewthegentleman, Guts, Yes It's a Cat and Rivergrade Boy. Trickster Nickster was scratched at the gate, Sky Cape and P.S.U. Grad were withdrawn earlier.

(Chart, Equibase)

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