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Game Ball Ready for Man o’ War

Can lightning strike twice for Naipaul Chatterpaul? In June, almost two years to the day after he claimed Mission Approved for $35,000, Game Ball was claimed for $47,500 at Woodbine and Chatterpaul hopes the 5-year-old son of Sky Mesa can follow in his stablemate’s footsteps.

 

One month after being haltered, Mission Approved very nearly pulled off a 53-1 upset of multiple Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti in the 2010 Grade 1 Man o’ War, finishing second by a neck after leading to deep stretch. A year later, he became a Grade 1 winner, taking the Manhattan Handicap in a front-running 23-1 performance.

 

As he did with Mission Approved, Chatterpaul is pointing Game Ball to the Grade 1, $600,000 Man o’ War, the final graded stakes of the Belmont spring/summer meet.

 

“Sometimes, you have to reach in and take a shot,” he said. “It’s all about gambling.”

 

Chatterpaul said he’d been keeping an eye for some time on Game Ball, who spent the majority of his career in the care of Mark Casse. Owned and bred by John Oxley, the colt started at Tampa Bay Downs, winning a pair of races, and then finished last of eight in the 2010 Grade 3 Illinois Derby, in which Chatterpaul said Game Ball grabbed a hind ankle. Off for seven months, Game Ball returned to run in claiming races on both turf and synthetics, winning once in six starts.

 

Dropped into a $7,500 claimer going 1 ½ miles on the dirt at Fort Erie last August, Game Ball whistled by 6 ¾ lengths. He proceeded to win his next five starts, all in starter allowances, including three more at Fort Erie on the dirt – two at 1 ½ miles and one at 2 miles and 70 yards – and two on the turf at Gulfstream Park, at 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/8 miles.

 

“Since the [$7,500 race], he’s been a different horse,” said Chatterpaul. “I was hoping they would put him in for a tag at Gulfstream Park. I thought he was going to be a nice horse as a 3-year-old. I liked the pedigree – it says he can run all day long. I liked the horse. Every time he won, I’d sit and wait.”

 

Claimed for owner Dorothy Gentner out of his second-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile claiming race on the turf at Woodbine, Game Ball has had one work at Belmont, breezing five furlongs around the dogs on the inner turf on July 1. So far, Chatterpaul likes what he’s been seeing.

 

“I like the way he’s been training,” said Chatterpaul. “He’s very kind and he runs his heart out every time. He should put in a good effort that day if everything goes well.” 

 

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