Lucky Chappy is on the move … again. A quick peek at the stickers on his suitcase already reveal stays in Ireland, Italy, France, Maryland, Kentucky, and Florida, but it looks like the fun has only just begun for the globetrotting son of High Chaparral. If all goes as planned, you can add the mileage to San Francisco and Dubai soon to his ever growing total of frequent flyer miles, and all this for a colt who will not celebrate his actual third birthday for a few more months.
Owned by Barry Irwin’s well-known partnership, Team Valor International, Lucky Chappy first came to the attention of American racefans last October when he got through traffic and came storming home late to finish third in the in the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland in his American debut for trainer Graham Motion. The performance was impressive enough to prompt Irwin and the team to pull the trigger on a $100,000 supplemental fee to make Lucky Chappy eligible for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs. The decision did not quite pay off, but it certainly was not a bust either, as Lucky Chappy once again demonstrated a strong closing kick to come from near the back of the pack to get up for fourth place money. After a brief stretch away from the races, Lucky Chappy resurfaced in Gulfstream Park’s recent Kitten’s Joy Stakes where he fell victim to a lack of pace, finishing second to his stablemate, Howe Great. Now he’s all set to hop on a plane for the West Coast.
As part of an expected large field in Saturday’s Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby, Lucky Chappy will be starting for the first time in a race not on the grass, a fact that fits his bigger plan perfectly according to his trainer.
“[It is a] great spot to prep him for Dubai by stretching him out to mile and one eighth on the same Tapeta surface in a graded race,” said Motion.
Naturally things will depend on how well he runs Saturday at Golden Gate Fields to finalize his travel plans to Dubai, but keep in mind, this is a colt that has never run a poor race. Team Valor purchased the Irish bred last summer after three strong races in Italy. Following a second place career debut, Lucky Chappy came back to easily win a maiden, and a stakes race in his next two outings. So a trip to Dubai, in which he would join last year’s Kentucky Derby winner and champion, Animal Kingdom, is plenty likely. Animal Kingdom, also owned by Team Valor and trained by Motion, is pointing for the Dubai World Cup, while Lucky Chappy would contest the UAE Derby.
Let’s see, I think I covered Ireland, Italy, Kentucky, and Florida, with San Francisco and Dubai to come, where else has the colt that Team Valor’s Jeff Lowe describes as, “one of the strangest colorations he’s ever seen on a horse,” been? Oh yes, after the purchase in Italy, his new owners brought him to Chantilly in France for a few weeks of training before ultimately coming to America and Graham Motion’s stable at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. And by the way, Lowe also tells me his flight west, which departs tomorrow, will have a stopover in Dallas, so I guess you can add a lone star sticker to that suitcase.
Considering all the travels of Lucky Chappy, it occurs to me, if I had just tagged along with this colt the past few years, I would have already knocked off most of the must see destinations still on my bucket list.
And oh yes, before I forget, why does Lowe call his coloring so unusual? Lucky Chappy is half bay, and half gray. That’s right; the listed bay (he has no gray in his pedigree) is a bay in the front, and a gray in the back. Continued safe travels, Lucky Chappy!