December 4, 2020

Yaupon remains unbeaten in Chick Lang romp

Yaupon
Yaupon wins the Chick Lang at Pimlico (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Yaupon lived up to his burgeoning reputation in Thursday’s $200,000 Chick Lang Stakes (G3) at Pimlico. Romping by four lengths and tying the stakes record, the Steve Asmussen sophomore retained his perfect mark – and got in a straightforward prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).

Yaupon was dispatched as the 3-5 favorite after sweeping his first three starts this summer, capped by the Amsterdam (G2) at Saratoga. The Uncle Mo colt flashed his typical speed through fractions of :22.77 and :45.11 on the fast track, which burned off his pace attendant Arkaan. Yaupon drew off down the lane to finish 6 furlongs in 1:09.10, the joint-fastest in stakes history alongside another Asmussen winner, Lantana Mob (2008).

Double Crown rallied from midpack to take second from the stalking Relentless Dancer. Little Menace, Yaupon’s stablemate, worked his way into fourth on the rail. Next came Dreams Untold, Captain Bombastic, Pitching Ari, Arkaan, and Lebda. Blackberry Wine was scratched.

Yaupon was ridden for the first time by John Velazquez, who already knew he had to ask the talented but inexperienced colt to stay on task.

“Put him on the lead and keep him on the lead, and he keeps running,” Velazquez said. “You’ve got to ride him the first part. For the first three-sixteenths of a mile, I had to ride him just to keep his head on the business. Even at the three-eighths pole I am reminding him, ‘Hey, keep your mind on your business.’ Then when he switched down the lane then he knew. It was ‘OK, time to go.’”

Yaupon races for the same connections as Mitole, the 2018 Chick Lang hero. Mitole developed into a champion sprinter as a 4-year-old, but Yaupon might be on the fast track to succeed him in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

The May 24 foal didn’t race until June, when he prevailed in a photo in a Churchill Downs maiden. After rolling in an entry-level allowance at Saratoga, Yaupon again held sway in his Amsterdam stakes debut. The now 4-for-4 colt has bankrolled $288,264.

Yaupon was bred in Kentucky by Betz, Lamantia, CoCo Equine, Magers, and Burns. Out of the Grade 1-placed Vindication mare Modification, he is a half-brother to multiple Grade 2-placed Sawyer’s Hill. Yaupon initially sold for $350,000 as a Keeneland September yearling, RNA’d for $485,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Gulfstream Sale, and finally fetched $255,000 at OBS June.

Favorites had a much tougher time in Thursday’s turf sprint stakes, with a yielding course serving up a pair of upsets.

In the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint Stakes, the 11-1 Hollis sped to the early led and just lasted by a neck from defending champion Completed Pass. Under Gabriel Saez, Hollis clocked 5 furlongs in :59.61 to register his first stakes win. Love You Much was third, edging 2-1 favorite Texas Wedge, while well-backed Francatelli and Tiger Blood also disappointed.

Trained by John Ortiz for WSS Racing and 4 G Racing, Hollis was claimed for $50,000 out of a May 25 Churchill sprint won by C Z Rocket. The Street Sense gelding, a half-brother to current Spinaway (G1) third Lady Lilly, has earned $202,642 from a 12-6-2-0 line.

Larry Johnson’s homebred A Great Time employed the opposite tactics to notch her first stakes tally in the $100,000 The Very One Stakes, closing with a rush from far back for Julian Pimentel. The 10-1 chance ran down 30-1 Mr. Al’s Gal, 8-1 Ode to Joy, and 22-1 defending champion Wild About Star in 1:00.14. Jo Jo Air, the 4-5 favorite, wound up sixth in the 12-horse field. Chalon, cross-entered to Saturday’s Skipat Stakes, was among the scratches.

The Mike Trombetta-trained A Great Time, who’d placed in the Jameela and License Fee over the summer, has compiled a mark of 19-4-5-3, $223,512. By Street Magician, the Maryland-bred is a three-quarter sister to Grade 1-winning sire Victor’s Cry.