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Chess Chief tops Into Mischief exacta in New Orleans Classic (G2)

March 21, 2021

Chess Chief (left) holds off Owendale to win the New Orleans Classic (G2) – Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir

Chess Chief got to the front just in time to nip Owendale on the wire in Saturday’s $400,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) to complete a one-two finish for the sons of Into Mischief in the 1 1/8-mile affair.

While Owendale has several graded stakes scores to his name, the dramatic win was Chess Chief’s first graded stakes score. Chess Chief finished third to Owendale in the 2019 Oklahoma Derby (G3) and most recently third in the Feb. 13 Mineshaft S. (G3), also at Fair Grounds.

Saturday’s finish was set up after Owendale battled for the lead with Roadster through the first seven furlongs, with Chess Chief sitting last in the field of seven. Chess Chief, under Luis Saez, began to make up ground on the turn while racing well off the fence. Owendale took over from a stubborn Roadster in mid-stretch and was all out for the wire, but Chess Chief was moving best of all while five-wide, winning by a head in 1:49.24 on a fast main track.

“Luis thought the leaders moved a little soon and he caught them at the wire,” trainer Dallas Stewart said about the close finish. “We needed every inch of that long stretch.”

Chess Chief is 4-4-3 in 23 outings and has banked $632,048 for the James J. Coleman, Jr. Estate. He was bred by Morgan’s Ford Farm and his second dam is multiple Grade 2 winner Plenty of Grace, a sister to Eclipse Award winner Soaring Softly.

Into Mischief has now accounted for five graded winners and 13 stakes winners this year and is currently on pace to surpass his record-setting season of 2020.