Posted: June 13, 2021

By Tom LaMarra

A freaky-fast workout at Parx Racing in late May led the connections of Chub Wagon to pass on a Grade III stakes June 5 in New York, but their patience was rewarded as the filly returned to Pimlico Race Course to win the $100,000 Shine Again Stakes, part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships Series (MATCH), and remain undefeated in seven starts.

Bred and owned by Daniel Lopez and George Chestnut, Chub Wagon, a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Hey Chub, won the Skipat Stakes, the first of six races in the Filly and Mare Sprint—Dirt division, at Pimlico. She now has 20 points to lead the 2021 MATCH Series divisional and overall standings.

The six-furlong Shine Again attracted several of the best female sprinters in the Mid-Atlantic region, but Chub Wagon was up to the challenge. Reunited with jockey Jomar Torres, who was aboard for four her previous wins, all at Parx, the speedy filly again displayed the ability to rate just off the pace.

Hello Beautiful, a seven-time winner and a dominant force in Maryland, returned in the Shine Again after several months on the sidelines and quickly took command under Sheldon Russell as Chub Wagon had to take back from the rail position. Hello Beautiful clicked off fast fractions of :22.21 for the opening quarter-mile and :45.32 for a half-mile and maintained a 1 1/2-length lead in the stretch.

Chub Wagon was able to angle off the inside in the stretch and began slowly gaining on Hello Beautiful, who battled back in an excellent effort. At the finish, Chub Wagon was a neck in front. The winner paid $3 as the heavy favorite and covered the distance on a fast track in 1:10.21. Paisley Singing, at 59-1 the longest shot in the eight-horse field, finished third.

“We were a little worried about the one post and getting boxed in, but she came through,” said Chestnut, who traveled from New Jersey for the race. ”Danny thought she went a little too fast in the (:44.71 half-mile) work at Parx so we gave her an extra week off.”

“She’s a very, very, very classy horse,” trainer Guadalupe Preciado said of Chub Wagon. “She does everything easy. When she came back she looked like she wasn’t even blowing. She does everything so good.”

Brittany Russell, who trains Maryland-bred Hello Beautiful, was pleased with the filly’s comeback race. The filly had finished fifth in the Grade III Barbara Fritchie Stakes at Laurel Park in her last start Feb. 20.

“She ran huge,” Russell said. “It’s disappointing to get beat, but it’s nice to see her come back and run her eyeballs out. You kind of had to take it to (Chub Wagon) a little bit. I was happy with how it ended up; I just wish we were on the other end of the result.”

Chub Wagon, a three-time stakes winner, has now earned $282,800 and has won her seven races by a combined 34 1/2 lengths. Co-owner Lopez, who won more than 1,500 races as a trainer in the Delaware Valley and beyond, had invited Chestnut, who was involved in a New York racing partnership, to his farm in New Jersey to discuss investing in a few horses. One of them was Takin the Plunge, a filly who failed to make it to the races but became a broodmare. She was bred to Hey Chub, who then stood at Joe-Dan Farm.

Her first foal, Chubofftheoldblock, was originally owned by Lopez and Chestnut, later changed hands and has earned $177,000. The second foal was Chub Wagon, and Chestnut said he and Lopez have a yearling full sister to Chub Wagon. Hey Chub now stands at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pa.

As for future races for Chub Wagon, Preciado and Chestnut said the Grade II Princess Rooney Invitational at Gulfstream Park July 3 is a possibility, as is a stakes on Pennsylvania’s Day at the Races Aug. 23 at Parx. The upcoming MATCH Series stakes in the Filly and Mare Sprint—Dirt division are the July 31 Alma North Stakes in Maryland and the Aug. 23 Seeking the Pearl Stakes at Colonial Downs in Virginia.

The 2021 MATCH Series continues through Dec. 26 at Laurel, with six stakes in each of the four divisions.

(Jim Duley photo of Chub Wagon and Hello Beautiful)