Prove Right gamely winning an allowance at Laurel Park on Dec. 11, 2022. (Jim McCue/MJC)
David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club
LAUREL, Md. – Feeling that Prove Right had turned a corner, trainer and co-owner James Chapman brought his promising juvenile to Laurel Park to, well, prove him right. The son of 2018 Triple Crown champion Justify didn’t disappoint.
Just eight days removed from a disappointing effort in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct, Prove Right got an ideal stalking trip from fall meet leading trainer Jeiron Barbosa before surging past the eighth pole for a one-length optional claiming allowance victory Dec. 11. The winning time for 5 ½ furlongs was 1:03.72 over a fast main track.
It was the second win from 10 starts this year for Prove Right, who fetched just $15,000 as a yearling last fall at Keeneland. One start prior to the Remsen, he led from the gate to the top of the stretch before settling for third in the one-mile Nashua (G3) under jockey Jose Ortiz.
“I think Justifys are a little bit quirky, and he’s just now getting to where he’s figuring out what’s going on. If you worked him with a color of horse he didn’t like, he wouldn’t work with him. He’s very odd,” Chapman said. “He’s a real cool horse. He was the cheapest Justify of that whole year, which was the first year. He’s a really neat horse and now he’s much nicer to be around. He was a challenge from the day we got him until two, three months ago.”
Co-owned by Stuart Tsujimoto, Prove Right won second time out in a restricted maiden special weight June 26 at Churchill Downs. He followed with back-to-back off the board finishes in the Sanford (G3) on dirt and Skidmore on turf at Saratoga before finishing first by two lengths in a four-furlong optional claimer Aug. 26 at Timonium but was disqualified to third for interference.
Before his return to stakes company in New York, Prove Right ran fourth in a seven-furlong optional claimer in mid-September at Churchill and second in a similar spot sprinting six furlongs Oct. 8 at Keeneland. The Remsen was his first time going around two turns, which Chapman felt was confusing for the young colt.
“He broke that day and was looking at the grandstand. It was his first time starting in front of the grandstand, and he kind of broke funny. Once the jockey grabbed him and he pitched his head up going into the turn, it was over,” Chapman said. “He did that at Churchill one time when he ran out of the chute going seven-eighths. He’s just a little bit of a weird horse that way. The race before when he broke free with Ortiz, he was on the lead going in 23 and 46 [seconds] going a mile and just got beat.”
Chapman made the trip from Kentucky saddle Prove Right and was thrilled with how he responded to the quick turnaround from the Remsen.
“I just kind of threw that race out,” Chapman said. “It [was] time to move on. I don’t know if the horse really wants to route. He ran really good that day in the [Nashua], but the race he ran at Keeneland when he sat back and came flying I think is kind of his style.”