Despite largely running a claiming outfit, it is not rare to see
trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul pluck an old class horse out of the ranks and send
him up to the ladder to a Grade 1 race.
Game Ball, his
long-shot entrant in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup this Saturday, is just
such a horse. Purchased for $47,500 out of a race at Woodbine, the son of Sky
Mesa has run in the Grade 1 Man o’War (seventh) and Grade 1 Sword Dancer
Now, Chatterpaul will switch Game Ball to the dirt, a surface on which
he has won six of seven starts, albeit against less talented company than he
will face on “Super Saturday.”
Chatterpaul, who won the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap in
2011 with $35,000 claimer Mission Approved, has no illusions about Game Ball
winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but he is not afraid of the competition.
“Most of the horses, some of them are really good horses, but
some of them are tailing off also if you look at the program,” he said.
“This horse is doing well, a really nice horse, training well. He can
run. It’s just that I’m looking for the right spot. I’m not crazy
about this horse on the turf. Even the rider, [Jose] Espinoza, said he worked
easy there on the dirt, easy in hand, a minute flat.
“It’s a really top-class horse, just like Mission
Approved,” added the trainer. “I wouldn’t put the horse in if
I didn’t see any quality in him. There are a few horses you’ll find
that you can claim and if they’re decent enough, you can bring them back
to their old class. And he seems like one who will get back there,