UNDEFEATED YAUPON DOMINATES G3 CHICK LANG
Two years ago, trainer Steve Asmussen sent a speedy colt named Mitole to Pimlico to win the then-listed, now Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes for owners Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt.
That runner went on, last year, to win the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and Asmussen has to be hoping that if history doesn’t exactly repeat itself, it’ll at least rhyme. Running for the same connections, Yaupon ran his record to four-for-four with a dominant win in Thursday’s Chick Lang.
Yaupon went off at 3-5 odds, and why not? Not only had he won all three of his career starts, but he’d also recorded back-to-back 100+ Beyer speed figs, far faster than his rivals had recorded. And, for good measure, he was the only graded stakes winner in the field, having scored in the Grade 2 Amsterdam on the mud at Saratoga August 29.
For all that, however, he had company for the first half-mile of the Chick Lang. Arkaan — a Mike Pino-trainee who’d cost $450,000 as a yearling and won two of three to date — pressed Yaupon from his outside, as those two sped through an opening quarter-mile in 22.77 seconds, while heads apart.
“The first jump is not very good, but after that he gives you a good feeling,” said winning rider John Velazquez. “On the other hand, you have to kind of keep reminding him that he needs to stay there. Watching Joel [Rosario, who rode him twice at Saratoga], he rode him every step of the way at Saratoga. I kind of did the same thing today.”
After a half-mile Yaupon had inched to a half-length lead in 45.11 seconds. Arkaan was beginning to tire. And Yaupon was about to find more.
“He was kind of a little bit a little spotty, especially around the [turn],” Velazquez said. “Then he switched [leads] down the lane, and he goes on, you know like, like he was not even running the first part of the race, so very nice,”
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Yaupon is a three-year-old colt by Uncle Mo out of the Vindication mare Modification, who herself was graded stakes-placed. After failing to meet his reserve — despite a top bid of $485,000 — in March of his two-year-old year, he did change hands, for $255,000, in June of that same year.
With four wins from four starts, Yaupon now has $288,264 in career earnings. His final time of 1:09.10 matched the dozen-year-old stakes record set by Lantana Mob in 2008 but was nowhere near the 1:07.70 recorded last year by Covfefe, the Pimlico track record for six furlongs.
Yaupon paid $3.20 to win. Double Crown, off at 12-1, rallied from mid-pack for the place, four lengths in arrears of the winner. Never far back, Relentless Dancer (17-1) held third. The exacta returned $10.70 for a buck, and the triple was good for $86.20.
Velazquez also has the mount on Preakness favorite — and Kentucky Derby winner — Authentic. He said after the Chick Lang that he’d been paying special attention to how the Pimlico main track was playing in preparation for that Grade 1 contest.
So far, that looks good for Authentic.
“You have to be close to the lead or on the lead,” Velazquez said.
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NOTES Upsets were the order of the day in a pair of turf sprint stakes contested on the Chick Lang undercard run over yielding ground… In the Jim McKay Turf Sprint for three-year-olds and up, Hollis posted a stubborn, front-running score when he held off a late run from defending champ Completed Pass. It was the sixth career win, from 12 starts, and first in stakes company for a runner who was claimed for $50,000 by trainer John Ortiz and owners WSS Racing and 4 G Racing back in May. Running time for the McKay was 59.61 seconds for five furlongs, and the winning rider was Gabriel Saez, who will ride Mr. Big News in the Preakness… In The Very One for fillies and mares three and up, six-year-old A Great Time earned the first stakes win of her career when rallying on the far outside to win late in 1:00.14 for five furlongs. Trained by Mike Trombetta, she now has four wins from 19 career starts for owner R. Larry Johnson, who also bred the daughter of Street Magician in Maryland. Julian Pimentel was up….