Larry Jones knows the score as it pertains to next month’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita Park. Al Stall Jr. knows it, too, along with another score line that didn’t come out in his favor and one that quite frankly he’s happy not to revisit.
The two men sent out the 1-2 finishers in Sunday’s Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster at Keeneland Race Course with two 4-year-old fillies headed in different directions.
Jones and owners Fletcher and Carolyn Gray are headed to the Breeders’ Cup with I’m A Chatterbox, who thumped a short Spinster field that included familiar foe Paid Up Subscriber to earn an automatic berth in the Distaff. Stall and owners Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence don’t appear headed to the Breeders’ Cup, at least not with Paid Up Subscriber, who is slated to sell in the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November mixed sale two days after the World Championships wrap up in Southern California.
Those scenarios are perfectly fine for both horsemen; Jones knowing that I’m A Chatterbox faces a serious challenge and Stall knowing that Paid Up Subscriber is probably a better fit someplace else.
I’m A Chatterbox, fourth last time behind Cavorting, Curalina and Forever Unbridled in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on Travers Day, will likely face that trio along with three other serious heavyweights from Southern California in the Distaff.
“That was not a bad race on any of those four fillies,” Jones said of the Personal Ensign, where I’m A Chatterbox finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Cavorting after setting all the pace. “You run those four fillies at 10 different tracks on 10 different draws of post positions, nobody is going to win them all and everybody is going to win one. That’s a good bunch of fillies. Then when Dallas Stewart’s filly (Forever Unbridled, in the Beldame) won so good in New York it was just validation that it was right, and with her winning like this it’s justification that these are four nice horses.
“Of course now we’ve got to worry about Cavorting and Curalina being very fresh coming in. Then they’ve got that little horse called Beholder and Stellar Wind that can run. Then there’s Songbird. What does it take to beat her? We don’t know, she’s never been beaten.”
I’m A Chatterbox, already a Grade 1 winner and one of last year’s best 3-year-old fillies, made it look easy in the Spinster in front of the lively Sunday crowd of 18,454. She and jockey Florent Geroux tracked the early pace set by Paid Up Subscriber, took command on the final bit of the turn between the quarter pole and the straight and drew off to win by 7 lengths.
Paid Up Subscriber, second to I’m A Chatterbox in a controversial edition of the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap July 16 and one spot behind her when fifth in the Personal Ensign, easily held second. Stall tipped his cap to the winner.
“Pretty simple. We’ve faced her three times now and we’re 0-for-3,” he said. “But she made a good account of herself so we’re fine.”
Stall also echoed Jones’ theory that I’m A Chatterbox would have a tall order in the Distaff, which like the Spinster is run at 9 furlongs.
“The scary thing is I’m A Chatterbox will be the seventh choice in the Breeders’ Cup if she decides to go,” he said. “Literally. Seventh choice. Think about it.”
Jones said the plan is to go to the Distaff and that her owners are even considering racing the daughter of Munnings next year as a 5-year-old.
I’m A Chatterbox goes to the Breeders’ Cup with three wins in five starts this season and will look to improve on an eighth in last year’s Distaff at Keeneland. A winner in her 2-year-old debut during the 2014 Keeneland fall meet, I’m A Chatterbox finished second in her only other start in Lexington in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare this past spring.
I’m A Chatterbox won the Spinster in 1:49.98.
“Nothing to write home about but at the end of the day the payday is the same,” Jones said. “She looked like she was doing it nice and easy, then when they started opening up on the field, her and Paid Up Subscriber, who is a very nice horse, I was wondering if we would get by her. It was all good. I know Al doesn’t like his horse being on the lead, but it worked out great for us.”
Bred in Kentucky by her owners, I’m A Chatterbox improved to 8-for-16 lifetime and boosted her bankroll to $2,209,614 with the Spinster victory.
Should the Distaff field stay intact, those seven females mentioned by both Jones and Stall would bring collective earnings of $16,981,954. Beholder leads the group with $5,056,600, but the 11-for-11 Songbird, with a second-best $3,372,000, is projected as the favorite for the race.
Jones, who trains for Songbird’s owner Rick Porter and his Fox Hill Farm, joked about the opportunity to take on last year’s champion 2-year-old filly and seven-time Grade 1 winner.
“And with Rick Porter doing it my job could be on the line,” he joked. “I might lose Fox Hill horses if this happens. And he knows I don’t really want to beat him, but I’ve got to do. Gotta do.”
Notes: Keep Quiet punched his ticket for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf with a victory in the $250,000 Dixiana Bourbon on the Spinster undercard. Geroux rode the French-bred son of Elusive City for owner Gary Barber and trainer Mark Casse, who won last year’s Juvenile Fillies Turf with Catch A Glimpse. Keep Quiet, second in the Grade 2 With Anticipation last time out at Saratoga, won by 1 1/4 lengths over 9-10 favorite Ticonderoga. …. Keeneland reported record attendance of 66,437 for the three-day Fall Stars Weekend, topping the previous mark of 62,454 set in 2006.