Edited Pimlico Release — Daniel Lopez and George Chestnut’s undefeated Chub Wagon passed her biggest test to date with flying colors, reeling in multiple stakes-winning pacesetter Hello Beautiful through the stretch and surging late for a thrilling half-length victory in Sunday’s $100,000 Shine Again Stakes at historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.
The 13th running of the six-furlong Shine Again for fillies and mares 3 and up, part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series, was the fourth of five stakes worth $475,000 in purses on a 10-race program.
Followed by the $100,000 Stormy Blues to cap the card, the Shine Again was preceded by the $100,000 Searching Stakes and $100,000 Prince George’s County Stakes on turf and $75,000 Ben’s Cat Stakes. The Stormy Blues for 3-year-old fillies and Ben’s Cat for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up were both moved from the grass to the main track and remained at five furlongs.
Sent off the 1-2 favorite in a field of eight that included Anna’s Bandit, Dontletsweetfoolya, Hello Beautiful and Never Enough Time – winners of 34 career races, 20 of them in stakes – Chub Wagon improved to 7-0 lifetime with her third consecutive stakes win and second in a row at Pimlico following the May 15 Skipat Stakes on the undercard of the 146th Grade 1 Preakness Stakes.
The winning time was 1:10.21 over a fast main track.
“She’s a very, very, very classy horse. She does everything easy,” winning trainer Guadalupe Preciado said. “When she came back, she looked like she wasn’t even blowing. She’s does everything so good.”
Breaking from the rail under Jomar Torres, now aboard for five of her wins including her first stakes triumph in the April 27 Unique Bella Stakes at Parx, Chub Wagon was outrun for the lead by Hello Beautiful, making her first start since finishing off the board in the Grade 3 Runhappy Barbara Fritchie Stakes Feb. 20 at Laurel Park.
The opening quarter-mile went in :22.21 with Chub Wagon rated in second, flanked to her outside by Dontletsweetfoolya as Hello Beautiful led the way. She was still in front midway around the turn after going a half in :45.32, with Chub Wagon looming after putting away Dontletsweetfoolya. Once straightened for home, the top two began to separate from the pack.
“I told [Torres] it looked like [Hello Beautiful] was the speed. I said, ‘I’d like to be outside of her. We had a bad position on the inside but if she wants to go, let her go, and go from there.’ Last time she closed nice, and today she closed again. The filly she beat is a nice filly.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. was up in the Skipat, the first time Chub Wagon didn’t lead from start to finish in any of her races. She won the six-furlong Skipat by two lengths, which had been her shortest margin of victory until Sunday.
“She ran great today. I sat off the pace today because she was going great, but the other horse had more speed. So I waited, and, when I went to the clear, she picked it up very well. She loves to fight,” Torres said. “She’s a really nice filly.”
Hello Beautiful stubbornly dug in under Sheldon Russell into deep stretch, but grudgingly gave way approaching the wire. It was another three lengths back to 59-1 long shot Paisley Singing in third, followed by Never Enough Time, Anna’s Bandit, Lucre, Unique Factor, and Dontletsweetfoolya.
A 7-year-old mare with 17 wins, 11 stakes, and more than $782,000 in purse earnings from 36 previous starts, Anna’s Bandit was also coming off a layoff, not having run since last summer at Delaware Park.
“She ran huge. It’s disappointing to get beat, but it’s nice to see her come back and run her eyeballs out,” Hello Beautiful’s trainer Brittany Russell said. “You kind of had to take it to [Chub Wagon] a little bit. You don’t want to let her get away and then we’re sitting there saying, ‘Why didn’t we go?’ I was happy with how it ended up; I just wish we were on the other end of the result. She’s not one to fold. She’s had a couple excuses along the way. It’s nice to see she ran hard.”
A 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Hey Chub that gave Parx Hall of Famer Precaido his 2,000th career win with her debut victory last fall, Chub Wagon is being considered for the $350,000 Grade 2 Princess Rooney Stakes July 3 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The seven-furlong Princess Rooney is a ‘Win and You’re In’ qualifier for the $1 million Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Nov. 6 at Del Mar Race Track in Del Mar, Calif.
“If everything goes good, I think we’re going to the Princess Rooney,” Preciado said. “Every time she runs, the races come harder and harder. For me, that’s the way to do it. I don’t want to come out of nowhere and face tough horses and later you have nothing. You go slowly and sometimes the horses like it. Next time probably is going to be tougher.”
The Shine Again Stakes returned to the Maryland stakes calendar after being a casualty of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and was being contested at Pimlico for the first time since 2013, having each of its last four runnings at Laurel Park in Laurel, Md.
It honors Allaire duPont’s fourth-generation Maryland homebred mare that retired in 2003 after winning 14 of 34 starts, seven stakes, and nearly $1.3 million in purses. Trained by late Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, she won back-to-back editions of the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes in 2001 and 2002 and was second in 2003.