One year after coming up a neck short as the 7-5 favorite in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G2), Chicago Style offered a potent late rally to get up, also by a neck, as the 9-5 favorite in Friday’s $200,690 renewal at Del Mar. The Glen Hill Farm homebred then had to survive a claim of foul to keep his trophy.
In the process, Chicago Style handed trainer Tom Proctor a personal milestone. His 18th career stakes win at Del Mar, according to track publicity, surpassed the seaside tally of 17 by his late father, Willard Proctor.
Chicago Style, and jockey Drayden Van Dyke, had a similar pair of circumstances to overcome as last November. In 2017, he encountered a snail’s pace and a tough East Coast shipper ridden by Mike Smith in Manitoulin. On Friday, the tempo was better but still slow enough for the firm course, and again Hall of Famer Smith was aboard a classy invader in Bigger Picture. This time, however, Chicago Style had the added punch to prevail.
After the scratch of Bigger Picture’s stablemate, Krewe Chief, Ashleyluvssugar soon established control through leisurely fractions. New rider Tyler Baze, picking up the mount upon the abrupt retirement of Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, nursed the veteran along through splits of :24.51, :50.65, 1:16.25 and 1:41.79. The pace ratcheted up nearing the final turn, especially when Can’thelpbelieving forced the issue alongside Marckie’s Water. Ashleyluvssugar was under attack at the 1 1/4-mile split in 2:05.17, shrugged those two off, but could not hold the closers in deep stretch.
Chicago Style swooped widest of all, edging in and contributing to Ya Gotta Wanna’s checking. Bigger Picture had gotten through between horses to take a blink-and-you-miss-it advantage, until Chicago Style’s momentum propelled him across the wire in 2:28.53. Beach View, obstructed on the fence, got free in the final strides to snatch third from Marckie’s Water. Ashleyluvssugar tired to fifth, followed by Ya Gotta Wanna and Can’thelpbelieving.
Ya Gotta Wanna’s trainer, Phil D’Amato, lodged an objection against Chicago Style for the stretch incident. The stewards ultimately let the order of finish stand, finding that the tiring Ashleyluvssugar and Marckie’s Water – to Ya Gotta Wanna’s inside – also had a role in the squeeze play. In any event, even if Chicago Style had a greater hand in it, Ya Gotta Wanna did not appear to be going well enough to maintain his position when the eventual winner surged past.
Chicago Style’s first stakes score advanced his record to 11-6-1-1, $296,328. The gelded son of Kitten’s Joy was making only his third start as a five-year-old. Third to Bigger Picture in the January 28 John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3), he wasn’t seen again until a tune-up fifth in the November 2 Lure over a mile.
The Kentucky-bred is out of multiple New York-bred stakes winner and Grade 3-placed You Go West Girl, a well-named daughter of Mr. Greeley.
Quotes from Del Mar
Winning rider Drayden Van Dyke: “I knew they were going slow, but my horse was relaxed and I was comfortable with where we were. He’s a straightforward horse; you ask him and he gives. When it came time, I tipped him out and he went. It’s sure fun to ride ones like him.”
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith on near-misser Bigger Picture: “Aw, he ran dynamite. He ran too good to lose!”
Jockey Rafael Bejarano on the troubled third Beach View: “He put in a good late run. I didn’t want to go around, so I waited until there was a spot on the rail. Then he gave me a push.”