Phoenix Gold Cup: Peace Chant All Class

Six-year-old by Breeders' Cup winners War Chant and Safely Kept wins first stakes.

Peace Chant, a 6-year-old whose parents are Breeders' Cup winners War Chant and Safely Kept, scored the first stakes triumph of his career when he rallied from far back to capture the $100,000 Phoenix Gold Cup Handicap at Turf Paradise Feb. 14.

The dark bay horse provided new owner and trainer Doug O'Neill with quite a Valentine's Day surprise in the six-furlong Gold Cup. Listed at 6-1 on the morning line, Peace Chant went off at odds of 14-1.

O'Neill claimed Peace Chant from Stonestreet Stables and trainer Richard Mandella out of the horse's most recent start Jan. 17 at Santa Anita for $62,500. He faded to finish last of six in the optional claiming allowance event that day.

Bred in Kentucky by Jayeff B Stables, Peace Chant was acquired by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stable for $900,000 at the 2004 Keeneland September sale. He is a son of 2000 Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner War Chant and 1990 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) victress Safely Kept. Safely Kept, who won 22 stakes races in her career, was voted the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter in 1989.

Ridden for the first time by Alonso Quinonez, Peace Chant raced near the rear of the 13-horse pack for the opening quarter-mile before launching his bid on the turn. He was eased out for the drive and surged past his rivals to draw clear for a 1 3/4-length victory over second choice Ducky Drake, who also closed willingly from far back for jockey Mark Villa. The winning time was a sharp 1:08.20.

Peace Chant's last win came in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance heat at Santa Anita on the former dirt track April 13, 2007. He ran second in Hollywood Park's Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) on the Cushion Track one month later, which was his best stakes showing prior to the Gold Cup. Peace Chant snapped an eight-race losing streak while earning his fourth lifetime win in 14 starts. The winner's share of $60,000 increased his bankroll to $244,109.

Twin Sparks, with Dennis Collins aboard, finished a half-length back in third. Machismo, the 13-10 favorite ridden by Mike Smith, raced close to a sizzling pace set by Bound to Be M V P (:21.64, :43.75), but was out-finished and settled for fourth, 3 3/4 lengths behind Peace Chant.

Peace Chant carried 118 pounds to victory and paid a whopping $30.60, $13, and $9.80 while keying a $2 exacta worth $194.60. Ducky Drake, coming off a stakes win over the track Jan. 24 for trainer Bart Hone and owner/breeders Ralph and Aury Todd, returned $6.60 and $5.80. Twin Sparks, part of a two-horse field entry in the overfilled race, was $26.80 to show.