May 6, 2021

Chess Chief runs down Owendale in New Orleans Classic

Chess Chief
Chess Chief wins the New Orleans Classic (Hodges Photography/Amanda Hodges Weir)

Saturday’s $400,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) was projected to have a slow pace, and it was moderate, but that didn’t stop Chess Chief from passing all six of his rivals in the final half-mile to win the 1 1/8-mile test at Fair Grounds under Luis Saez.

Saving ground much of the way and at the tail of the field down the backside, Chess Chief commenced his rally on the far turn, swung very wide at the top of the stretch, and eventually edged odds-on favorite Owendale by a head to earn his first stakes win for the Estate of James Coleman Jr. and trainer Dallas Stewart. The final time over a fast track was 1:49.24.

“It’s one of the longer stretches in America. The jock knows that, and got the job done,” Stewart said.

Chess Chief
#6 Chess Chief heading to victory in the New Orleans Classic Stakes (Jamie Newell/TwinSpires)

Owendale, who tracked in second behind the pacesetting Roadster through fractions of :24.11, :48.30, 1:11.64, just failed to hold in a gallant effort as the 9-10 public choice. Enforceable finished a half-length behind in third and was followed by Roadster, Sonneman, Olliemyboy, and Mocito Rojo.

Chess Chief’s four career wins have all come over the Fair Grounds strip. A dual allowance winner, the five-year-old had previously placed in the 2019 editions of the West Virginia Derby (G3) and Oklahoma Derby (G3), the latter behind Owendale, and in the Mineshaft (G3) on Feb. 13. His record now stands at 23-4-4-3, $632,048.

Bred in Virginia by Morgan’s Ford Farm, Chess Chief is by Into Mischief and out of Un Blessed, by Mineshaft. Chess Chief’s second dam was the Grade 1-winning Plenty of Grace, a half-sister to 1999 champion turf mare Soaring Softly.