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When Chase the Chaos split horses at the top of the stretch and then powerfully swooped past the leaders and on to a very visually impressive victory in the February 11 El Camino Real stakes at California’s Golden Gate Fields racetrack, three Albertans immediately started thinking roses.
“We’re hoping to make it to the Kentucky Derby,” said Bill Dory, who owns Chase the Chaos with his wife, Sandy, and partner Adam Ference.
“I’ve already got my hotel room booked. “We’re going to ride this wave as long as we can. I’m still on a high. In the El Camino he was pulling farther and farther away with every stride.”
But first things first. “The plan is to run him in the San Felipe stakes on March 4 at Santa Anita,” Dory said of a Derby prep race that another Alberta horse, Pole Position, won in 1979 for trainer Goodie Goodwin and the Eldorado Stables with Sandy Hawley in the stirrups.
Especially recently, the San Felipe has produced several outstanding horses like Life Is Good in 2021. Life Is Good won the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the 2022 Pegasus World Cup. In 2020 Authentic won the San Felipe and went on to win the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. A little earlier, in 2014, California Chrome won the San Felipe and then took the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Dubai World Cup.
“If all goes well there then we will probably looking at the Santa Anita Derby on April 8.”
Dory, who lives a few furlongs from Devon, and Ference, who lives near Blackhawk golf course in south-west Edmonton, aren’t the only ones dreaming such lofty goals.
Chase the Chaos’ trainer Ed Moger, a longtime fixture at Golden Gate, thinks so too. “I think he’s that kind of a horse,” said Moger.
“When he got to the outside (in the El Camino Real) I was pretty confident he would run well. He’s a talented horse and it doesn’t seem like he got tired.”
Dory, who was front and centre for the El Camino Real certainly agrees with that assessment.
“When he came out of the best barn he was bucking and squealing like he hadn’t even run. He handled it so well that it looked like he could run the next day.”
Chase the Chaos appears to be getting better with every start. A winner of an allowance race at Golden Gate by seven and a half lengths in his start before the El Camino Real, Chase the Chaos’ speed figures have been continually been getting higher.
When he broke his maiden last year at Canterbury Downs in Minnesota he earned a 62 speed figure. When he ran third in the Golden Nugget at Golden Gate he got an 84. In the El Camino he was given an 88 after running the mile and an eighth in 1:51.68.
“He’s definitely getting better,” said Dory. “The El Camino was a decent time. It rained the night before so the track was a little slow that day.”
Chase the Chaos could be the real deal but only time will tell. It certainly wasn’t always that way.
“He was a handful when we got him,” said Robertino Diodoro, the former Alberta trainer who, last month, became just the 37th conditioner in North America to win 3,000 races, and who had him in Canterbury.
“Probably the worst acting broke two-year-old we’ve had in a long time. My assistant, Matt Williams and his help spent a lot of extra time with that horse,” said Diodoro, who won his first career race on Aug. 2, 1995 at Northlands Park.
“But Matt kept saying that with time this horse will be a runner.” Matt was obviously right.
But then Chase the Chaos has changed. “He’s a very calm, big, strong horse now,” said Dory.
While distance don’t appear to be a problem - even the Kentucky Derby’s mile and a quarter - the biggest question is whether Chase the Chaos can run on dirt.
He broke his maiden on grass and his last two wins were on synthetic Tapeta. Furthermore, Chase the Chaos’ sire Astern did his best running on grass highlighted by the Australian-bred sprinter’s win in the Group 1 Golden Rose in Australia. Astern’s progeny have had their best moments on grass too.
On the other hand Astern is a son of Medaglia d’Oro, who won over $5 million on dirt. And, Chase the Chaos’ dam, Live the Moment, won on dirt and her sire is Uncle Mo, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on dirt. Uncle Mo has also sired many Grade 1 dirt performers such as Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Belmont champion Mo Donegal. Moreover, Uncle Mo has been a fantastic broodmare sire.
“I think Chase the Chaos can handle dirt,” said Dory. “He ran second on dirt in his debut when the race was taken off the grass because of a lot of rain. “Whether he can beat run with the big boys on dirt may be another matter. “Hopefully we get to find out.”
While Chase the Chaos gets an automatic berth into the May 20 Preakness, the second leg of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, for winning the El Camino, horses need to get points to earn a spot in the 20-horse field Derby.
Chase the Chaos earned 10 qualifying points for his win in the El Camino Real Derby. To get a start in the Derby, historically, horses need at least 40 points.
“I fully anticipate him getting 50 points,” said Dory, who bought Chase the Chaos sight unseen for $10,000 at the 2020 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale as a weanling from the Ballysax Bloodstock’s consignment. Chase the Chaos was bred by Mr. and Mrs. Dale Krapf in Philadelphia.
“That’s how I buy most of my horses: sight unseen. I have a vet in Kentucky and I go through the sales catalogue and make a list of horses I like. Chase the Chaos was one of them. “I watch the sales on the Internet.”
Dory and Ference bought seven horses at that 2020 sale. As well as Chase the Chaos, five were winers last year including Readytotapandsing, who is a finalist for the Alberta Two-Year-Old champion.
Off of Chase the Chaos’ performance in the El Camino Real a lot of eyes have been raised. “The other day Ed told me I had a $200,000 offer for him. I turned it down. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”
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