Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Remarkable Climb of Bogue Chitto

Good things come to those who wait. For Luis de Hechavarria, owner of Woodbine-based sprinter Bogue Chitto, the good deed of a layup has provided great results for a well-rested horse in 2009.

Bogue Chitto legs one out on a Wednesday night at Woodbine

Bogue Chitto spent his two-year-old campaign on the sidelines due to tendon issues and the following season was sent to the barn of Woodbine trainer Ian Howard only to have the tendon issue resurface.

After a year-long layoff, Bogue Chitto finally made it to the post last November 7th finishing third while racing for a $37,500 tag at six furlongs.

Trainer Ian Howard and jockey Gerry Olguin interviewed by Renee Kierans

Through eight races in 2009, all at Woodbine, Bogue Chitto has made a remarkable climb from the claiming ranks to top Stakes events including a second place finish in the G2 Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine last month.

Bogue Chitto has yet to finish worse than second in 2009 notching four wins along the way. One of those second place efforts was against the now suspended Hollywood Hit who covered six furlongs in a manic 1:07.20 on the main track.

From Wednesday night to a second place finish in the Nearctic Stakes

This Saturday, Bogue Chitto will take on nemesis Field Commission in a strong field including Jungle Wave and El Brujo sprinting six furlongs on the main track. It is a race that will decide the Sovereign Award for Champion Sprinter.

I recently had a chance to speak with trainer Ian Howard about a horse that is quietly making a splash at Woodbine.

TDH: When did you know you had a good horse on your hands?
IH: We always like him and thought he was talented but he's had quite a few setbacks so we were pretty conservative at what levels we were running him at.

TDH: Did you have a hard time picking spots for him?
IH: If he hadn't had tendon injuries at two or three he'd have been running in maiden allowance races to start. He always showed quite a bit of ability, but with him having a tendon you never know quite how long they're gonna stay healthy. We were pretty aggressive to run him where it could be easier on him and he could hopefully win without having to really work at it as much or run into tough, tough horses.

TDH: You must have been happy with the early results this year breaking the maiden first out.
IH: After his second or third race we started not worrying so much about the tendon and began training him a lot harder, letting him do more and he's gotten better since.

TDH: How did the horse respond to training?
IH: He missed so much time not being in training, just being turned out, that he started back up last fall having a two-year-old experience running against older horses. After he got to train for the same period of time and got a chance to get really fit, he really started to run better and better.

Post Parade in the Nearctic Stakes

TDH: Do you think he's better suited to race here than his Florida home?
IH: The nice thing about being here is that you're assured you don't have to train on a deep track. With a tendon, that's a big plus. He stayed here over the winter and after we started him up it took a while because he's a five year old. Four year old and up races weren't really going.

TDH: Describe his first starts this season.
IH: He went for $32,000 in his first race and we expected that he would win and he did. Second time out, we didn't really train him hard enough. He was blowing pretty good when he came back. It was a tough race as Whiskeyontherocks ran a big race.

I think that the third time he should have won but he kicked the gate when he left there and then got stuck inside. He probably should have won that day, or deserved to win. (Won by BlizzardBuddyBen under a $37.5 tag.) That was when he really started to run well as he ran his last eighth in 12 and they ran in sixteen and change.

After that we figured we better not run him for a tag anymore and then he won three in a row.

TDH: Given the gate trouble in that race did you school him afterwards?
IH: We don't gate school him much. He's not bad about going in. He's a very aggressive horse and he'll start kicking the back wall. He's a tough horse and we're not going to school that out of him and he's been better about it since.

TDH: Describe the Nearctic Stakes trip.
IH: He ran his eyeballs out. Probably a little sharper than he'd been at the start before. He got an opening at the head of the lane and went through it. It looked like they were going to run by him but he just dug back in and that horse (Field Commission) came by on the outside but Bogue put the rest of them away, he just couldn't catch that one.

He was very game to be on the inside and keep trying with that many horses around you. When a horse runs that hard, wherever you finish you have to be happy with him.

TDH: What's next for Bogue Chitto?
IH: Most likely he'll go in the Kennedy Road. He came out of the race in great shape. He's eligible for the Sunshine Millions races but for now we'll go to the Kennedy Road and see how he goes after that.

Bogue Chitto could easily win by a long neck

TDH: Do you prefer to run him on turf or poly?
IH: Because he can sprint on grass and poly it makes things a lot easier. His leg looks great now but I wouldn't want to run him on a deep turf. With a sprinter it's hard to find races, but at least we have the option of running on either. I think he's good on both.

An alert Bogue Chitto surveys the Woodbine backstretch

TDH: Have you been shocked by Bogue Chitto's late development?
IH: He was a very talented horse when we had him at three. He worked very well. The only thing that shocked me is that his leg, from where it was two years ago when he had a pretty significant tear in the tendon, looks great. It was a low tear and those usually don't come back that well. So the only thing that shocked me is that his leg is so good. If you look at that leg, it would be life and death to figure out that he'd ever had a tendon issue. Usually they won't heal that well and I have to credit to the owner for giving him a year off. He always liked the horse so he gave him a chance.


A chance is all anyone can ask for. At odds of 8-1, there will be quite a few punters taking a chance this Saturday on the remarkable Bogue Chitto.

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