Locally-based Chirac broke on top and never looked back, powering his way to a 12-1 upset against five rivals that included odds-on favorite Coal Play in the $300,000 Philip H. Iselin (gr. III) (VIDEO) Aug. 22 in the Monmouth Park slop.
It was a successful graded stakes debut for the 4-year-old son of Sligo Bay, who was making his ninth career start at the Oceanport, N.J. racetrack. The bay gelding had won three consecutive races there earlier this season, including the Skip Away Stakes, but entered the Iselin off a fourth-place finish three weeks earlier in the Majestic Light Stakes. A Florida homebred of Pia M. Kirkham, Chirac is trained by Jane Cibelli.
There was no mistake about what Elvis Trijullo had in mind for Chirac, sending him straight to the lead in the nine-furlong event. Chirac didn’t get away with easy fractions though, as he burned the opening quarter-mile in :22.98, a half-mile in :46.76, and six furlongs in 1:10.83. Pampered Sir pressed the pace in second, while Coal Play and Actin Good were just off of the frontrunners.
As they made their way around the turn, You and I Forever made a charge from the back while splitting horses under Eddie Castro to put himself into contention. But Chirac, who had a four-length advantage at the eighth-pole, had plenty left for the stretch drive and extended his lead with every stride. He hit the wire 6 3/4 lengths in front of You and I Forever in a final time of 1:49.11.
You and I Forever finished 4 1/4 lengths in front of third-place Pampered Sir. Coal Play, winner of the Salvator Mile Handicap (gr. III) July 4 at Monmouth, settled for fourth as the 4-5 favorite.
“The trip was great,” Trujillo said. “I just wanted to get him on the lead. When we got to the front, I just let him do his thing, and that’s what he did. He ran his race all the way around and was getting better and better as we went on. This is very nice horse.”
Though Trujillo’s plan may have been clear, Cibelli was a bit surprised at how the race played out.
“I wasn’t expecting to be on the lead,” Cibelli admitted. “I wanted to be close, but if it turned out we would be on the lead, than it was okay. I was worried when I saw the first fraction, :22 and 4, I thought he would burn himself out.
“Last out (in the Majestic Light), he got bounced around a little bit, he just wasn’t able to run his race. Today, he was perfect. He beat some real nice horses in there. The Meadowlands Cup (gr. II, Oct. 16) will be next for him.”
Of Coal Play’s disappointing performance, jockey Joe Bravo said: “He just wasn’t himself today. He’s usually very energetic in the paddock, but today he was pretty quiet. I’m thinking the heat took a toll on him today.”
Chirac, who is out of the You and I mare Mona Lisa, earned $180,000 for the victory and upped his career bankroll to $347,630. He is now 7-1-4 from 16 lifetime starts.
The winner paid $26.40, $8.20 and $5.40. The exacta (2-4) returned $134.80 and the trifecta (2-4-6) was $716.80. Actin Good finished fifth, followed by Researcher. Solar Flare was scratched.