Here, we look back at a pair of highlights over the last two weeks of Chicago racing, beyond the stakes races. Of course, if you haven't already -- make sure to look back at the triumphs of Devileye, Babybluesbdancing, Bet She Wins, Barry Lee, and Moms Choice!
Imposing Will Fights On
Three-year-old Imposing Will (Wilburn - Relentless, by Sought After) has not always found the wire first this meet, but the Michele Boyce trainee owned by Schroeck Racing LLC has marked himself a horse who puts forth an honest effort every time he goes out on the lawn. After a third-place finish and then a nose victory in allowance-optional company in his first two starts of the meet, the three-year-old bay gelding made an ambitious try in the American Derby (G3). Though Sonic Boom had his way on the front end, Imposing Will did well to make up some late ground and rally for fourth less than five lengths behind. He didn't take to the polytrack next out, but rebounded to finish third behind Christian C in his start on August 19. Christian C franked that form, coming back next out to beat heavily favoured Oak Brook on September 4.
Imposing Will returned to the track on September 8, in an N1X allowance-optional turf mile. He lurked a bit under the radar, sent off just the fifth wagering choice in the field of eight. He set up comfortably in midfield, with rider Jose Lopez unhurried despite Fleetway's comfortable early lead. He remained settled, set firmly in fifth position, down the backstretch and through the far turn. The real running began turning for home; Gain Ground and favoured Broken Key got the first run on Fleetway. Lopez got Imposing Will into the clear past the three sixteenths. He improved, and by the sixteenth pole, he was on the throatlatch of Gain Ground, the outermost horse in the leading flight. He fought on, got his nose past Gain Ground, and won by a head in a blanket finish over that foe and pacesetter Fleetway.
The Best Claim of the Meet
Four-year-old Gorgeous George (Iqbaal - One Hot Wish, by Bring the Heat) made his fourth career start on May 12 for owner/trainer/breeder Wesley Ward. That start came in a $10,000 N2L. He won, but owner Dundalk 5 LLC and trainer Dee Poulos dropped a claim slip. The claim suggested serious faith in the horse -- after all, Gorgeous George had broken his maiden two starts back at Turfway for a tag of just $5,000. Their faith was warranted: since then the dark bay or brown gelding has made six starts for Poulos, and made the $10,000 purchase price look a bargain. Though Gorgeous George did not win his first three starts in his new barn, he showed up in the superfecta in each of those starts, including a third-place finish in allowance-optional company on June 23.
However, Gorgeous George has truly caught fire the last month and a half. He closed like a freight train to win a six-furlong starter-optional ($5K/$10K) over the polytrack on July 28. August 17, Gorgeous George tried something completely different. He notched up in class (an $8K/$16K starter-optional), switched to grass, shortened up to five and a half furlongs, and seized the early lead. No matter, the result was the same: even though a swarm of horses tried to catch him late, Gorgeous George got another win picture. The form of that race held, too: second-place In the Chamber returned a week later to roll against Illinois allowance company, and fourth-place Hey Pretty Boy just missed in a salty starter-optional on August 27.
September 2, Gorgeous George stepped into an N1X. It was a turf dash, a flat five furlongs. He wasn't the sharpest from the gate, but once the front end settled into shape, he had the lead and left favoured Mister Maestro to chase him from the inside. Mister Maestro flattened. Bajan Rhythm chased honestly, but did not have enough. Boom Box thundered home late on the outside, but his best was only good enough for second. Gorgeous George and jockey Jose Lopez had sped out of reach, and held to win by three quarters of a length. He made it three wins in a row, and $42,535 in purses since moving to his new connections -- what a return on a $10,000 claim four months ago!
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