By Dick Jerardi
Chub Wagon ended her incredible 2021 season on the last Saturday of September during the Pennsylvania Derby Day undercard. She began her 2022 season on the last Monday of June. The 2021 Parx Horse of the Year ended both races where she has been after every race but one during her 12-race career – in the winner’s circle.
The now 5-year-old Pennsylvania bred mare had to work for it in the off-the-grass (after a downpour) 5-furlong $100,000 Power By Far Stakes for Pennsylvania bred fillies and mares. Hey Mamaluke, who won the 2021 Power By Far, was alone on the lead until the far turn. That’s when Silvestre Gonzalez, riding Chub Wagon for the first time, let his mount start to close in.
Hey Mamaluke, ridden by Andy Hernandez, was still in front with 100 yards to go, but anybody who has ever watched Chub Wagon run knew what was going to happen. The mare eased by in the final yards and won by three-quarters of a length. It was 8 lengths back to Castilleja, trained by Hall of Famer King Leatherbury in Maryland.
“She was comfortable the whole time,’’ Gonzalez said. “If I had asked her a little bit earlier or it was a little bit more distance, she would have given me even a little bit more. She’s that type of filly that she’s going to give it her all.’’
Chub Wagon is now 11-for-12 with one second in a career that began Nov. 16, 2020. It was her seventh win at Parx and seventh stakes win, four at Parx, two at Pimlico and one at Delaware Park.
Trained by Parx Hall of Famer Lupe Preciado for owners Danny Lopez and George Chestnut, Chub Wagon has now earned $593,600. She is a bit more than 1 length from being unbeaten (her lone loss came last August at Parx). She came into the Power By Far with a series of very fast workouts, but the hard race should set her up nicely for the rest of the season.
“It’s been (nine) months, she had the vacation that she needed, got back into training, but every three, four days, it would rain, she couldn’t be trained,’’ said Lopez in explaining why it took until late June to get her back to the races.
Lopez said Chub Wagon may race next in a few weeks at Laurel Park. And then they might look at some of the bigger out-of-town races.
“As long as she shows that she still belongs against the company she’s been facing, because she’s going to have to step it up some in the future,’’ Lopez said.
Chub Wagon has not yet run in a graded stakes race. She has been managed carefully but smartly. And she always delivers.
The $100,000 Crowd Pleaser, also off the grass and for 3-year-old Pa. Breds going a mile and a sixteenth, was a tour de force for Greg and Caroline Bentley’s Runnymoore Racing and trainer Cal Lynch. They won the April 25 Unique Bella together with Cinabunny. They went one better in the Crowd Pleaser going 1-2 with Undercover Kitty and Loose Ends.
Undercover Kitty was sent immediately to the front by jockey Charlie Marquez. She was just in front much of the race and then re-broke in the stretch to win by 6 lengths with her stablemate a clear second and Epic Luck along for third.
“(Undercover Kitty) had run in an allowance race at Pimlico last time and he was the only 3-year-old in that race,’’ Lynch said. “We were shooting a little bit (high) that day, but this (race) was in mind and we’re happy it all worked out right.’’
Lynch, who was based at Parx for years until moving his stable to Laurel, now works out of the Bentley’s barn at Fair Hill (Md.). They have some very good horses together and are buying more. Lynch has started 35 horses at Parx this year, with 10 wins and 9 seconds.
“Mr. Bentley has a lot of very nice stock coming along and we’re very optimistic we’ll be back,’’ Lynch said.