Dealing with It's Tricky is tricky. Just ask Kiaran McLauglin, who trains the 3-year-old daughter of Mineshaft for Godolphin Racing. When he calls her a “funny filly,” he doesn’t mean funny as in “ha ha,” he means funny as in strange.
While competing, It’s Tricky is a real pro. She has victories this year in the TVG Acorn Stakes (gr. I) and the TVG Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) to her credit. For the Breeders’ Cup Ladies' Classic (gr. I) Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, she is the third choice, at 5-1, on the morning line.
But before and after her races, It’s Tricky is a challenge for her handlers.
“I don’t know where to start,” said McLauglin the morning of Nov. 3 at Churchill. Then, after pausing to think for a little bit, he continued, “We’ll start with she’s difficult to catch in her stall.”
One race day, it took 45 minutes to nab the bay filly and get her under control.
“Now, we’re a little more careful,” McLaughlin said. “She’ll come to a carrot if we have a carrot in our hands.”
Another It’s Tricky quirk is that she likes equine company when going to the track.
“She wants to be escorted; she will hardly leave the barn without a pony,” McLauglin said. “We’ve requested a pony to be right here at the barn tomorrow to lead her over (for the Ladies' Classic). The pony will be either in front of her or right beside her, and we’ll ask permission for him to go with her into the paddock and stand with her.”
But that doesn’t necessarily assure everything will go smoothly.
“While she’s usually pretty good when she’s going with the pony, she can stop and she can be difficult,” McLaughlin said.
It’s Tricky also can make life difficult for the person who rides her.
“When she won (the CCA Oaks) at Saratoga, it was a hot day,” McLauglin said. “(Jockey) Eddie Castro grabbed a bucket of water from the groom to put water on her neck. When he went to put the water on her, she dropped him. He shouldn’t have done it. We were trying to tell him, ‘No, no, no,’ but it was too late. He was off.”
Castro has ridden It’s Tricky in all but one of her seven races this year, but he won’t be aboard in the Ladies' Classic because he suffered a hairline spinal fracture in mid-October at Belmont Park.
“We’re sorry to have lost Eddie because any time you have a filly that has behavioral issues you like to keep the same rider,” McLaughlin said.
Ramon Dominguez will be in the irons for the Ladies' Classic and “we really put a lot of thought into who was going to ride her,” McLaughlin said. “Ramon is a great rider and he has great hands. He also knows her because he’s seen her run every time. We’re happy to have him and he’ll be fine. We’ll tell him whatever we can about her and whatever we need to.”
It’s Tricky is coming into the Ladies' Classic off runner-up finishes to Royal Delta in the Aug. 20 TVG Alabama Stakes (gr. I) and to Plum Pretty in the Oct. 1 Cotillion Stakes (gr. II). Plum Pretty, who won the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) this year at Churchill, is the Ladies' Classic’s 2-1 morning line favorite. Grade I winner Royal Delta is the second choice at 5-2.
“In the Alabama, we went after Plum Pretty thinking that she was the one to beat,” McLauglin said. “We went after her a little bit early and we got by her at the three-eighths pole, but it set up perfectly for the winner. She (Royal Delta) sat behind us, went around us, and drew off.
“For the Cotillion the track was a little funny,” McLauglin continued. “It was muddy and then it went to good for the first race and then it went to fast. It was a wet/fast racetrack that was speed favoring. That filly (Plum Pretty) just ran a huge race, and we finished second.”
But McLaughlin expects conditions to be more in It’s Tricky’s favor in the Ladies' Classic.
“We feel like that Plum Pretty is going to get entertained (on the lead) by (trainer) Marty Wolfson’s mare (Ask the Moon) and maybe another one,” McLaughlin said. “We’re going to lay third to sixth, and then put in our run at the quarter pole or the three-eighths pole. We love our chances. She (It’s Tricky) is a multiple grade I winner and a really nice filly, and she’s doing great.”
And if It’s Tricky does triumph, she could end up with an even bigger prize.
“If she wins, she will be the 3-year-old champion filly,” McLauglin said. “It’s between the three of them – It’s Tricky, Plum Pretty, and Royal Delta. The one who wins this race will be the Eclipse Award winner.”