French-Bred Filly Rolls by 5 ½ Lengths in Turf Stakes Debut
LAUREL, MD – Looking right at home in his Maryland debut, Lael Stables’ Chez Pierre kept his perfect record intact by turning back multiple graded-stakes winner Field Pass in the stretch and going on to a 5 ½-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Henry S. Clark at Laurel Park.
The 22nd running of the one-mile Clark for 3-year-olds and up anchored five $100,000 stakes on the second of consecutive Spring Stakes Spectacular Saturdays, and was among the first three of the season scheduled for Laurel’s world-class turf course.
Earlier on the program, Deciding Vote captured the one-mile Dahlia for fillies and mares 3 and older and True Valour won the 5 /12-furlong King T. Leatherbury for 3-year-olds and up, both on the grass. On the dirt, Rough Sea upset the 1 1/8-mile Northern Dancer and Kaylasaurus was a winner in the six-furlong Primonetta.
The Clark, Dahlia and Primonetta are each part of the Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series that launched its 2022 season April 16 at Laurel.
Favored at 4-5 in a field of seven, Chez Pierre ($3.80) improved to 5-0 after winning three times in his native France and capturing his U.S. debut March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs. The winning time was 1:34.83 over a firm All Along turf course.
Purchased by Roy and Gretchen Jackson for $114,164 as a 2-year-old in the summer of 2020, Chez Pierre was making his stakes debut in the Clark. His prior win came off a 10-month break between starts.
“The plan was to start him in Europe and see what he could do. He did very well over there but we thought more opportunity here,” winning trainer Arnaud Delacour said. “We had a little issue which was a setback, so we had to no matter what give him time off. It was right time to bring him back in the stakes.”
Highway Bound, sent off at 40-1, broke sharply and was in front after an opening quarter-mile in 22.91 seconds and a half in 46.56, tracked by Rock On Luke with Field Pass racing third and Chez Pierre settled in fourth. Field Pass, stepping out of graded company for the first time since August 2020, pulled within striking distance after six furlongs in 1:11.52, with Chez Pierre in pursuit.
Centeno had Chez Pierre outside once straightened for home and they set their sights on Field Pass, who had forged a short lead. With an eye-catching turn of foot, Chez Pierre soared past Field Pass and opened up through the lane.
“He ran good the first time in the country going two turns, and we were rolling that day. I thought maybe he was going to need the race but if you watch the race he fired all the way to the wire,” winning jockey Daniel Centeno said. “The thing that I liked that day was he galloped out really strong after the wire.
“I thought today he was not going to be rank. He was going to be more relaxed, and he got the perfect trip. He was completely relaxed today and when I turned for home I surprised the favorite,” he added. “He reacted so quick; I didn’t have to touch him. I said, ‘Let’s go,’ and he made it easy to the wire.”
Mandate made a late run to edge Field Pass by a neck for second, with Oceans Map fourth. They were followed by Sir Alfred James, Highway Bound and Rock On Luke.
Chez Pierre’s first three races in Europe were sprinting six furlongs on the turf, and his Tampa race was the first at the mile distance. In that race, he pressed next-out winner Drama Chorus to the top of the stretch and prevailed by a neck as the favorite.
“It was the first time going two turns on the turf the last time, so I think he was a little surprised. He just wanted to go [because] previously he had only run six furlongs. I think he’s a smart horse. He learned and obviously today he relaxed pretty well,” Delacour said. “He’s been breezing very well so we were high on him. He’s only confirming what we thought.”
Live racing returns to Laurel Park with an eight-race program Sunday starting at 12:40 p.m. The feature comes in Race 7, an entry-level allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up that drew an overflow field of 15 for one mile on the Dahlia turf course. Peter E. Blum’s homebred Get Serious, a last-out maiden winner March 12 at Tampa Bay Downs, is the 3-1 program favorite.
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Photo: Maryland Jockey Club