Some things get
easier with the passage of time. Dealing with the temperamental It’s Tricky is not one of them.
But for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, the extra effort has been worth it.
The talented, yet quirky, 3-year-old daughter of Mineshaft has won two
Grade 1 races this year, and on Friday, November 4, will be going for a third
– as well as a shot at divisional honors – in the Breeders’ Cup
Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs on November 4.
“She’s still jumpy, spinning around, waiting for the pony
to come get her, just … difficult,” said McLaughlin of the
Godolphin filly. “It hasn’t gotten any better the longer
we’ve had her. But, you just have to work around it.”
So far, by pandering to her peccadillos – including having a tag
team of ponies accompany her to the racetrack and routinely blocking out an
extra half-hour to catch her in her stall – McLaughlin and his team have
seen the filly annex the Grade 1 TVG Acorn and the Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club
American Oaks and finish second in the Grade 1 TVG Alabama and Grade 2
Cotillion, earning $686,500.
Clearly, once on the racetrack, there’s no problem. It’s
getting her to the track that can be a challenge.
Now, looking to minimize any potential misbehavior for the
Breeders’ Cup, McLaughlin sent It’s Tricky, along with her
Breeders’ Cup-bound stablemates Trappe Shot, Alpha and Miss Netta, to Kentucky the
old-fashioned way – by horse van, not airplane.
“She’s pretty good coming out of own stall, in the Acorn,
and at Saratoga,”
said McLaughlin. “She ran well at Parx; I don’t think it’s a
big negative, shipping. We had to van to Aqueduct, but not that far. So, we
opted to van instead of fly her. That way, for our horses, they went on a van
into a box stall, traveled to Kentucky,
and got off that van into a stall at Churchill. Not on a van, on a plane, off a
plane, on a van. So we’ve cut out some of that. It cost us a few more
hours, but not that many more hours. But we feel good about it.”
It’s Tricky, a daughter of Mineshaft and the first foal out of
the Tale of the Cat mare Catboat, made her debut less than a year ago at
Aqueduct Racetrack, winning impressively on November 28. Even though the majority
of the stable was departing for Florida, the
decision was made to leave It’s Tricky in New York. In hindsight, said McLaughlin, it
“She won the optional claimer, then the Busher [February
20],” said McLaughlin. “Then, we decided to bring her to Florida, and as it
turned out, she didn’t like the heat [running fourth, beaten 22 lengths,
by R Heat Lightning, in the Gulfstream Park Oaks]. Had we brought her to Florida with us, she
might have run third or fourth in her second start, and might not have wound up
being considered for and winning a Grade 1.”
It’s Tricky captured her first Grade 1 on Belmont Stakes Day,
scoring a 10-1 upset of the TVG Acorn at a mile. Six weeks later, It’s
Tricky again pulled the upset, collaring favored Plum Pretty in the stretch and
edging clear in the final yards for a three-quarter-length victory in the TVG
Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga Race Course.
Attempting to become just the sixth filly to add the 1 ¼-mile Alabama
to victories in the Acorn and Coaching Club American Oaks, she finished second
to Royal Delta and next was second to rival Plum Pretty in the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion
on October 1 at Parx Racing.
The Ladies Classic will mark the first start against older fillies and
mares for It’s Tricky, but with Horse of the Year candidate Havre de
Grace eyeing the Classic and Aruna, winner of the Grade 1 Spinster, under
consideration for the Filly and Mare Turf, McLaughlin feels the Ladies Classic
could set up well for his filly.
“The defections [of Zazu and Blind Luck] make it an interesting
race,” said McLaughlin.
“There might be a little more speed in the race so she might be
laying a close-up fourth instead of second. But a mile, to 1 1/8 miles, that is
the best distance for It’s Tricky.”
Matters became a bit more complicated when regular jockey Eddie Castro
suffered a hairline fracture of his spine on October 16, but McLaughlin is
confident in his choices for a replacement, either Ramon Dominguez or Julien
“I wanted someone with the right temperament, nice and
calm,” he said. “Because she’s …. Tricky.”