Selective LLC’s Chop Chop and Ike and Dawn Thrash’s The Alys Look, both trained by Brad Cox, earned the honors of the ones to beat in Saturday’s 31st running of the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans, La.
Installed respectively as the 8-5 favorite and 3-1 second-favorite in the morning line, the formidable Cox duo both have earned four Kentucky Oaks qualifying points. Contested over 1 mile and 70 yards, a field of seven have entered the 31st running of the Silverbulletday, which will go as race 12 of 14 with a post time of 5:30 p.m. CT. The top five finishers will earn Kentucky Oaks qualifying points (20-8-6-4-2).
Fasig-Tipton has been named the title sponsor of Fair Grounds’ 2023 series for 3-year-old fillies. The Fasig-Tipton Tremé Triple consists of the Silverbulletday S. on Jan. 21, the Rachel Alexandra S. (G2) on Feb. 18, and the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on March 25. The name of the race series is a tribute to the historic Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans that borders Fair Grounds Race Course.
Chop Chop made a dazzling run to finish second behind current Kentucky Oaks points leader Wonder Wheel (40 points) in the Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland. After breaking near the back and relaxing along the rail, she kicked into gear and began to maneuver through a field of 14. Bet to favoritism in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, the daughter of City of Light struggled through a wide trip and finished last. She has not run since.
“After her run in the Alcibiades and how well she was training leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, I wasn’t surprised she was the favorite,” Cox said. “In that race, she went wide throughout and didn’t get a favorable trip. It’s tough to win when you’re not in position turning for home going one mile and a sixteenth at Keeneland.”
Out of the Giant’s Causeway dam Grand Sofia, Chop Chop was purchased for $230,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Select Yearling Sale in 2021. She began her career winning her first two races on the turf, tracking the leader in each race no further back than three lengths with Rey Gutierrez as her pilot. Rosario took the reins in the Alcibiades and Juvenile Fillies and switched up tactics, letting her settle to the back.
“Chop Chop has been able to run well on both surfaces (dirt and turf), so I think she is a pretty genuine and honest filly who is fit and ready to roll,” Cox said. “She got ready fairly quickly. We backed off a little bit after the Breeders’ Cup but she never left the barn. I knew I wanted to have her running by the Rachel Alexandra, but since she’s a long, lean, scopy filly, it didn’t take much to get her ready. Her works have been phenomenal, so I think she’s ready to run a big race.”
With Florent Geroux aboard, Chop Chop will break from post No. 5. Brad Cox won the 2018 Silverbulletday with eventual Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl – Geroux was aboard, and he’s won the race three times.
Breaking her maiden in December at Fair Grounds, The Alys Look came back to run second to Pretty Mischievous in the locally run Untapable Stakes on Dec 26. After a tough trip through the slop at Churchill Downs in October, Cox decided to take the blinkers off hoping to relax the Connect filly, but after breaking sharply against a field void of early speed, Geroux kept her at the front for the wire-to-wire maiden win.
“It’s not a big field, so I think we’ll let her find her stride and maybe she’ll be a little bit more forward than she was in the Untapable,” Cox said. “The way she’s been finishing up at the end of her races, she’ll have a shot.”
In the Untapable, The Alys Look settled nicely and made a wide run through the second turn to range up on Pretty Mischievous in the homestretch, but she was unable to run her down.
Geroux will pass the reins to Luis Saez. The Alys Look drew post No. 4.
One of the best stories of the Fair Grounds’ meet to date has been the success of Patricia West. Training across the Louisiana circuit since 2010, West won the first stakes race of her career with A G’s Charlotte in the Big World on opening day. Since then she has won six more races from 17 starters, including another stake with A G’s Charlotte, and the Louisiana Futurity with Tom Galvin’s Norah G, who enters the Silverbulletday and draws post No. 1.
Norah G has had difficulty getting away from the gates with alacrity in her three starts, but in the Futurity, a six-furlong sprint, she showed improvement.
“I thought her break from the gate was much improved from the first two tries, so we’re moving in the right direction,” West said. “I feel she wants to go two turns. She’s super smart. She’ll overcome things. Nothing bothers her. That is a lot especially with fillies because they get themselves beat with their brains. She’s the coolest cucumber in the barn, so I feel really good about her.”
Tabbed at 8-1 in the morning line, Deshawn Parker will climb aboard the Fast Anna filly who is a neck shy of being a perfect three-for-three.
Wing and A Prayer Racing’s Hayunevano broke her maiden on the lead when stretching out for the first time. In the Untapable, she pressed Pretty Mischievous and held on for fourth, earning 2 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points. The Goldencents filly out of the Munnings dam Classic Vision was a gift to owners Stewart Dimak and James Pittman.
“Before the sale at Ocala, the farrier nicked her hooves too close,” Dimak said. “They breezed her anyways, and of course she ran slow, making her unsaleable. So the breeder called me up and said ‘I’ve got a filly who needs a job.’ He sent me videos of her breezing with a colt, and I saw she was a monster. I said, ‘well if she needs a job, I’m hiring.’”
Trained by Sam David Jr., who won the 1997 Silverbulletday (known then as the Davona Dale) with eventual Kentucky Oaks winner Blushing K. D., Hayunevano has been set at 8-1 in the morning line, draws post No. 3, and will be guided by Marcelino Pedroza Jr.
Trainer Jason Barkley doesn’t look to have his first-time starters cranked and ready to win right out of the back, so when NBS Stable’s Forest Chimes stunned a strong field on debut in December, he knew he had a runner. The son of veteran-trainer Jeff Barkley, Jason’s go-to rider has been James Graham, but when Graham was committed to another mount, Jason turned to his dad’s go-to jock, Corey Lanerie. Sent off at 13-1 on debut, the Tonalist filly by the Forestry dam Sequoia Queen passed four fillies in the second turn and pulled away to win by 7 1/2 lengths.
Here’s the complete field for the Silverbulletday Stakes from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):
- Norah G (Deshawn Parker, Patricia West, 8-1);
- Cotton Candy Annie (Mitchell Murrill, Armando Hernandez, 20-1);
- Hayunevano (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., Sam David Jr., 8-1);
- The Alys Look (Luis Saez, Brad Cox, 3-1);
- Chop Chop (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 8-5);
- Amber Cascade (David Cohen, Cherie DeVaux, 6-1);
- Forest Chimes (Corey Lanerie, Jason Barkley, 4-1).