(May 31, 2008) – Indian Chant collected his first graded stakes win by the bob of a head with a narrow victory over Noonmark in Saturday’s 20th running of the Grade III, $117,779 Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Indian Chant, who determinedly held on for the win, stopped the teletimer in 1:08.40 – the fastest of 55 six-furlong races at Churchill Downs this season. Jamie Theriot rode the winner for owner Maggi Moss and trainer Tom Amoss.
Moss, the leading owner at Churchill Downs’ 2007 Spring Meet, notched her first stakes win under the Twin Spires.
Esperamos was rushed to the early lead through a flashy quarter-mile in :21.10 with Indian Chant right on his outside hip. Indian Chant began to vie for the lead on the turn from home, put away the early leader through a half-mile in a swift :43.78 and opened up at the head of the stretch. Noonmark, who rated behind the leaders from fourth under Shaun Bridgmohan, split rivals at the top of the lane, grabbed second with a furlong to run and surged home strongly only to come up short.
“I looked at the screen as I was going down by the sixteenth pole and saw (Noonmark) coming, and I kind of let my horse drift out a little bit to kind of get game with the other horse,” Theriot said. “Once he felt him come to his shoulder, he kind of gave me a little more and dug in. The last couple of jumps were a battle.”
“It’s a big win over a good bunch of horses, and we’re thinking big things for this guy,” Amoss said. “That’s what we’re going to do; we’re going to point toward the bigger things. Obviously he’s not Breeders’ Cup nominated, so I’m not going to step out there, but we’re going run in some big races and see where he fits with the group.”
Indian Chant, a 5-year-old gelded son of Suggest, has finished first or second in 18 of his 23 lifetime starts. This was his ninth triumph – second in five starts this year – and the $67,113 check padded his bankroll to $471,648.
Sent off as the 2-1 second choice in a field of six older horses, Indian Chant returned $6.40, $3.40 and $2.60. Noonmark paid $4 and $2.60. Elite Squadron, the narrow 2-1 fan’s choice after his victory in the Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day, was another 5 ¼ lengths back in third and returned $2.20.
Kelly’s Landing, Esperamos and Carnack’s Choice completed the order of finish. Carnack’s Choice was pulled up after a quarter mile and was vanned off.
Aristides Stakes Jockey & Trainer Quotes
TOM AMOSS, trainer of INDIAN CHANT (winner)
“It’s exciting. It didn’t set up particularly like I thought it would. We were able, through a very clever ride and Jimmy’s horse (the James Baker-trained Elite Squadron) breaking poorly, to put him (Elite Squadron) in a bad position. I know that hurt him, and I’m sure he’ll have a lot to say if we meet again. Let’s put it that way. But that helped a great deal. In Indian Chant’s defense, the fight that he showed at the end of the race is a little newfound. I didn’t know that he could show that kind of fight at the end, and that’s exciting.”
Q: Noonmark looked like he had every chance to go on by and Indian Chant wouldn’t let him…
“He really dug in. At the sixteenth pole, I thought he was beat and at the wire he was able to hold him off.”
Q: How nice is this win for you? When you look at the horses you beat, you can make a case for almost all of them to show up, if things go well, in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint – with the possible exception of Indian Chant, who is not nominated to the Cup…
“It’s a big win over a good bunch of horses, and we’re thinking big things for this guy. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to point toward the bigger things. Obviously he’s not Breeders’ Cup nominated, so I’m not going to step out there, but we’re going run in some big races and see where he fits with the group.”
JAMIE THERIOT, jockey on INDIAN CHANT (winner)
“Every time I’ve rode him, he’s very quick. So I just take a long cross and let him run his race and he dictates what he wants to do. When you call on him down the lane, he’s there for us. Tom did a great job with him.
Q: In the final strides to the wire, it looked like it could be either horse…
“I looked at the screen as I was going down by the sixteenth pole and saw this horse (Noonmark) coming, and I kind of let my horse drift out a little bit to kind of get game with the other horse. Once he felt him come to his shoulder, he kind of gave me a little more and dug in. The last couple of jumps were a battle.”
Q: But you thought you had it at the wire?
“Yeah, I thought I hung on and won. I thought I had the head-bob.”
Q: You had to know you were rolling along there and going pretty fast…
“Every time I ride him, he goes out there and does those those :21’s and :43 or :44’s and change, and he’s a horse that you don’t take it away from him. He puts you into the race and that’s where he wants to be, and I just let him run his own race.”
SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, jockey on NOONMARK (runner-up)
“I had a full head of steam and I thought we had him, but the other horse just ran a game race. Everything worked out great, except we were unfortunate at the wire.”
JAMES BAKER, trainer of ELITE SQUADRON (third)
Q: What happened with him at the starting gate?
“He just kind of missed the break. Somebody said the one (Esperamos) hit him coming out of the gate, but I didn’t notice that. If you watched him Derby Day (in his win in the Churchill Downs), he didn’t break very sharp that day – but he kind of drug him to the lead. The pace was torrid – I didn’t want him on the front end, but he got a little far back and he made a little bit of a run. It wasn’t his ‘A’ game, but it wasn’t a bad race either. He carried a lot of weight today. I’m not disappointed, but I’m not happy.”
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