(Trainer Dallas Stewart trains Chess Chief / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)

From the Fair Grounds Media Team:

The Estate of James Coleman’s Chess Chief rallied from last in the field of eight to nail .90-1 favorite Owendale on the wire in a thrilling 96th rendition of the $400,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) at Fair Grounds. Trained by Dallas Stewart and ridden by Luis Saez, Chess Chief completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.24.

In the early stages of the race, Roadster, with jockey John Velazquez in the saddle, led into the first turn through a moderate 24.11 quarter-mile fraction while Owendale and Florent Geroux tracked his every move to his outside hip. Chess Chief was nearly 5 lengths off the early pace-setting duo, while they completed a half-mile in 48.30. At the half-mile pole, Saez began asking Chess Chief to start closing ground on the leaders. At the top of the long Fair Grounds stretch, Roadster and Owendale continued to duel on the front end. Owendale took a clear advantage at the 3/16ths pole as Chess Chief continued to close ground down the center of the racecourse. Chess Chief surged late to win the narrowest of decisions.

Jockey Quotes:

Luis Saez — Chess Chief (1st):

“He finally gave me that last shot close to the wire to let us get by,” Saez said. “Everyone made a pretty early move. We tried to save ground at the rail. When we finally got the clear a lot of horses in front of us were backing up.”

Adam Beschizza — Enforceable (3rd):

“He just grinded for me and kept giving me more. Another 1/8th mile and I think we win it. He never really got too far back even when other horses starting going by us.”

Trainer Quotes:

Dallas Stewart — Chess Chief (1st):

“He’s by Into Mischief so we know he’s a quality horse,” Stewart said. “We are so grateful to train for Coleman family.”

Brad Cox — Owendale (2nd):

“It was an unfortunate photo on our end. No excuses. We had a good trip, just second best today. Going a mile-and-an-eighth it didn’t work out. We will take a look at the Alysheba (at Churchill Downs) next probably.”

David Carroll, assistant trainer — Enforceable (3rd):

“He ran much better today than last time. He was there with them. He bounced back. I’m not sure what’s next but we’ll talk it over and see.”