Sporting Chance became Tiznow's 15th lifetime Grade 1 winner with a dramatic score in the $350,000 Hopeful S. (G1) on Monday's meet-closing card at Saratoga. The victory moved the 2-year-old colt to the top of his division as the fall racing season makes its way to the Breeders' Cup in early November.
Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas for Robert Baker and William Mack, Sporting Chance was a TDN Rising Star after his sharp maiden special weight score July 22 at Saratoga. With Monday's win, he is 2-1-0 in three starts and has earned $269,140.
The eight-horse Hopeful field came out of the gate evenly, and only about four lengths separated the field through the first quarter-mile that went in :22.50. Sporting Chance was in second, just outside of National Flag, who continued to lead around the turn until just outside the quarter pole, when Sporting Chance and Luis Saez moved to the lead.
In the stretch, Sporting Chance began to pull clear and was up by nearly two lengths just a few strides before the finish, when he ducked out but still hit the wire a neck in front of Free Drop Billy.
“Well, [the finish-line drama] surprised me more than it did the horse,” Lukas said. “I thought he was comfortably in front and he was moving well. I think he was best in the last 50 yards where he accelerated, that's his style. Unfortunately, he saw something. I guess Luis explained that he ducked from the whip.”
Lukas soon turned his attention to the colt's fall campaign.
“I'm going to get together with the [owners],” said Lukas. “My first blush reaction is to maybe get a two-turn race. I might try to go straight to the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile, but I'm not real fond of Del Mar. I know that sounds crazy, but I'm going to weigh all our chances. Another logical spot would be the (Grade 1) Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and go two turns. There's all kinds of options now.”
Sporting Chance joins an illustrious group of Tiznow's Grade 1 winners that includes Well Armed, Tourist (who stood his first year at WinStar in 2017), Colonel John and current top 3-year-old Irap.
Sporting Chance was bred by Hunter Valley, who earned $80,000 for Sporting Chance's win via the WinStar Incentive Network program. The winner is out of Wynning Ride, a stakes winner and multiple Grade 1-placed winner of nearly $350,000.