Time will tell the strength of Chance It’s accomplishment Saturday at Gulfstream Park, but in out-dueling As Seen on Tv in the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes, the Florida-bred colt proved he’s an especially gutsy colt nonetheless.
In a race that could lead to the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail for either in this exacta, Chance It, the 3-5 favorite, battled back twice against the rival to his outside in the Gulfstream stretch.
Kelly Breen, who trains As Seen on Tv, lodged an objection against Chance It’s jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, for actions before the wire. Stewards disallowed that to leave up Chance It’s photo finish victory, marking his fourth win in six career starts.
"If he got beat, I wouldn’t sleep," said Chance It's trainer, Saffie Joseph Jr. "I thought he was beat at the eighth pole, I really did. He switched leads and he just dug in for that something extra. That’s the heart of a champion. I don’t want to call him a champion, because he has to earn it, but that’s the quality ofa horse that becomes a champion.”
Joseph Jr. made the Mucho Macho Man his third stakes victory of the afternoon. While the feature for 3-year-olds didn’t award Derby qualifying points, it figures to propel Chance It on to the local Holy Bull (G3) or Fountain of Youth (G2).
Rating off the hopeless pace setter Smash Factor, who opened with fractions of 22.42 and 45.10 seconds, Chance It saved ground before moving into the first flight of horses through the race's only turn. As Seen on Tv, meanwhile, tracked closer to the pace and maintained his run on the outside of a seesaw battle for the late lead.
The margin was just a head as Chance It hit the wire in 1:35.53.
"My horse fought gamely," Gaffalione said. "Saffie did an incredible job…He’s been off since (September). He did a great job. He loves all of them and it shows. It’s a privilege to be part of the team."
Chance It made all three of his previous stakes starts against Florida-breds, winning the Dr. Fager at six furlongs and more recently the In Reality at 1 1/16 miles. Joseph Jr. considered a Derby trail start for the Shooting Star Thoroughbreds runner but eventually left him local with other opportunities ahead.
Bettors hammered Chance It to 3-5 favoritism in the Mucho Macho Man. He returned $3.40 with As Seen on Tv, a fellow Florida-bred, second and Sole Volante third in a field of seven.