Celtic Chaos last to first in Affirmed Success thriller

Friday, April 28th, 2017
NYRA/Adam Coglianese

NYRA/Adam Coglianese

By Sarah Mace

Zilla Racing Stables’ Celtic Chaos (Dublin) kicked off the Belmont Park spring/summer stakes program with a bang Friday when he went from last to first to capture the opening day feature, a competitive and exciting renewal of the $100,000 Affirmed Success Stakes for older New York-bred sprinters.

The 12-horse field for the Affirmed Success, was noteworthy for both size and quality, chock-full of stakes-winning veterans and promising up-and-comers.

Celtic Chaos, who already had two stakes placings on his resume, came into the race in particularly sharp form. In the money in five prior starts dating back to December 1, he finished second by just a neck to Candid Desire, also in the Affirmed Success, three starts back in the Hollie Hughes. The colt won a state-bred allowance just three weeks ago.

After breaking from post seven, Celtic Chaos raced in caboose for the first half mile, while Marriedtothemusic used his hallmark early speed to carry the field through opening fractions of 22.31 and 45.43. Sudden Surprise pressed the leader along and was joined in the chase by Weekend Hideaway.

Celtic Chaos navigated the turn three-wide while the battle raged up front, and swung to the far outside in upper stretch. He launched his bid seven-wide with eight horses left to pass.

After pacesetter Marriedtothemusic ran out of steam at the rail, the lead changed three times in the stretch. Weekend Hideaway, the 2-1 favorite, got the best of the pace duel in upper stretch, but came under pressure from Eye Luv Lulu, in turn. Eye Luv Lulu grabbed the lead in the final sixteenth, but Celtic Chaos was charging home in the clear on the grandstand side, together with 75-1 longshot Final Chapter.

The better finisher, Celtic Chaos nailed Eye Luv Lulu in the final jumps to win by a neck in 1:10.84. Final Chapter, the aptly-named last horse bred by the legendary John Nerud, continued his strong closing kick to get a head in front of 2-1 favorite Weekend Hideaway, who had to settle for fourth. Completing the order of finish were Candid Desire, Riff Raff, Ostrolenka, Rectify, Awesome Gent, Marriedtothemusic, Samadi Sky and Sudden Surprise. West Hills Giant was scratched. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“To be honest, I’ve been riding this horse a lot,” said jockey Eric Cancel. “He’s a horse that likes to be comfortable at the beginning and he gives you a really good kick at the end. This time I knew I had to be a little bit closer with him. He gave me all he had. Perfect trip and we ended up winning.”

Kiaran McLaughlin, who trains the colt for Zilla, added, “It looked like there was a ton of pace in the race and Eric thought it was best to be outside. He had to ride him almost the whole way, but he knows the horse and he’s been riding him well.”

“I was a little nervous, but I could see him coming,” continued McLaughlin. “I thought he was too far back [early] but once he worked his way out, he started running and I knew they were all going to be slowing down. It was a great win.”

McLaughlin also gave a special shout-out to the enthusiastic partnership group that campaigns Celtic Chaos. “It’s a special win for Zilla [Racing Stables]. It’s their first stakes win, so it’s great for them. They’re very passionate owners and great fun to be around and they come out often. It’s a good team of people and we enjoy them. Mike Piazza, he’s the main guy, but he couldn’t be here today, but it’s really great for them.”

Bred by Spendthrift Farm LLC and foaled at Cedar Ridge Farm in Pine Plains, Celtic Chaos is from the first crop of Dublin, who stands at Keane Stud in Amenia for a 2017 fee of $2,500. His dam is Let Joy Reign, has produced five winners from five to race, including Louisiana-bred stakes-winner Osi Posse and Kentucky-bred multiple stakes performer Get a Notion. Zilla purchased Celtic Chaos for $55,000 at the 2015 OBS spring sale.

Celtic Chaos, who paid $17.20 for a $2 win bet, has earned $320,780 from five firsts, four seconds and three thirds in 18 starts.

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