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Breeders' Cup 2017

All Systems Go for Quirky It's Tricky

It's Tricky wins 2011 Acorn - top story
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 was critical.


“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 Leparoux.


“I wanted someone with the right temperament, nice and calm,” he said. “Because she’s …. Tricky.”


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