“All racehorse,” Chub Wagon scores in Alma North

Chub Wagon
Chub Wagon won the Alma North. Photo by Jim McCue.

On a day when a severe thunderstorm traveled through the area and turned the fast Laurel Park main track into slop while claps of thunder could still be heard off in the distance, a compact field of five dstaffers were on hand to contest the $100,000 Alma North Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs.

Much of the attention for the Alma North Stakes was focused on Chub Wagon, a talented homebred daughter of Hey Chub trained by Guadalupe Preciado for owners Daniel J Lopez and George Chestnut and breeders Joe-Dan Farm {Lopez] and Chestnut. Chub Wagon (Silvestre Gonzalez aboard) arrived with 11 wins from 12 career tries and was promptly made the 4-5 favorite, although her conditioner was unsure how she would adapt to the off going.

“I was a little worried after the track came up muddy,” Preciado said. “Sometimes, you just never know how they’re going to respond to the track.”

As it turns out, she responded to the off track the way she responds to everything else: by winning.

While four of the runners in the Alma North loaded into the starting gate quietly, Fille d’Esprit (Xavier Perez), the 2-1 second choice for trainer John [Jerry] Robb, was fractious in the gate – “thrashing around,” the chart noted – and had to be backed out of her stall briefly. Among those expected to display ample speed when the gate opened, Fille d’Esprit was not in the early mix when the gates opened and eventually proved a non-factor over the off going.

When the gates opened in the Alma North, Chub Wagon broke alertly from between horses but Cheetara was away best to establish the front. Kaylasaurus and Buy The Best were just behind the dueling leaders, while Fille d’Esprit never showed any interest. Chub Wagon and Cheetara were virtually inseparable down the backside and by the opener in 22.41, but they would not remain on even terms for long.

“She was a lot sharper at the break today than she was the last time,” said winning rider Silvestre Gonzalez. “This was her second start this year and she was definitely a little sharper today. I knew that she would put away the speed inside of me on the far turn.”

Midway on the far turn, Chub Wagon disposed of Cheetara to her inside then braced for the challenge from Kaylasaurus, winner of the Primonetta over the strip two starts back. At the top of the lane, Chub Wagon looked like she might be in for another battle, but the odds-on choice shook loose from Kaylasaurus and splashed clear to a three-length score while stopping the timer in 1:16.03 over the muddy going.

“When [Kaylasaurus] came to her on the turn, she just seemed to find another gear,” Gonzalez said. “She responded good for me in the lane.”

The final margin was three lengths, with runner-up Kaylasaurus nearly two lengths ahead of Cheetara. Buy the Best and Fille d’Esprit rounded out the field. Chub Wagon paid $3.80 to win.

Both co-owner Lopez and trainer Preciado noted that future entries on Chub Wagon’s dance card could include the $250,000 Pink Ribbon Stakes at Charles Town on August 26 and the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters. 

And both continued to marvel at the five-year-old Hey Chub mare’s consistency. She now has 12 wins from 13 starts with career earnings of $648,600.

“She’s like an ATM machine,” Lopez said. “She’s amazing to watch. After the rains came and I watched the sixth race, I wasn’t that worried about the track. I thought there was some speed in there, but not enough to stay with her.”

“She’s all racehorse,” Preciado added.