The Challenger Stakes (Grade 3)- $100.000 Purse
TAM- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
March 12, 2022
Mintmach was claimed by Nakamura Stables in October of last year, and was making his third start with the trainer. He had previously had a good, though inconsistent career under Nolespan Racing, and Nakamura is hoping to make him more reliable. Mintmach had won one of those two races, and running in the mud at The Challenger Stakes, he would come from off the pace to win the race by two lengths! It will go down as the first time both the trainer and jockey M J Sanchez would win the stake. Congratulations to them! The time of the muddy victory was 1:44.62. Here’s a look at it!
(¼ Mile- :23.77)- Bob Mueller takes the early lead for TwinTowersRacing, and he opens up a lead of around three lengths as the field moves around the opening turn. The next two in line feature his stablemate, Cherokee Twins, with Baptisted By Fire running to his outside for Mo Mentum Farm. A length behind them, we have a group of four, and running on the rail here would be Shoot To Kill, for Night Rider Stables with Ginger Sand running in the fourth lane here for The Sidley Stud. Running in between them would be our eventual top two finishers, as the Threshhold trained mare, Cp Dark Pain is in the second lane, and right to her outside is one of the Mintmach, for Nakamura Stables. Just Wanna Blaze (Gdp Inc) and Hang Around (Nakamura Stables) are a length behind them, then comes post-time favorite Jolly Rook (Angelos Stable) and Antonym (Mb Stables).
(½ Mile- :47.91)- As Bob Mueller leads the way, we start to see some action going on behind him, with Ginger Sand doing much of it. He had been running in the middle of the field, but had a clear lane in the fourth lane, so used this opportunity to advance his position and move into the second position, only a length behind the pacesetter. Baptisted By Fire would move down a lane, allowing a nice hole for Cp Dark Pain to come through if she wanted to, and for now Hang Around was looking like he might advance his position. Mintmach was still holding his lane, running in the middle of the field, officially in 8th at this point.
(Top Of Stretch, 1.8F To Go)- Bob Mueller would continue to lead the race throughout the turn, but it would be at that point where we would see many horses looking to find their lane to use in the stretch. There were some that fanned out quite wide to accomplish this. Mintmach would be one to move down a couple lanes, and would approach the exit of the turn running about five wide. He had plenty of run saved up, and was not about to let the mud slow him down as she got around the likes of Shoot To Kill and Cherokee Twins. He’d now be three wide with Baptisted By Fire and Cp Dark Pain. The mare had run well in the turn, too, but was passed by Mintmach before hitting the stretch. Ginger Sand was not able to maintain the run he had going earlier and was starting to look at little leg weary.
(Finish- 1:44.62)- Once they hit the top of the stretch, it was all about Mintmach. It didn’t take him long to pass Bob Mueller, and with a furlong to go, he had already opened up by a length. The ones that were running the best behind him were horses that he had already passed in the turn, so there was nothing to concern him at this point. The race would be his, and he would go on to score this two length win! Cp Dark Pain would be second best with a good run in the stretch, albeit overshadowed by Mintmach. She’d prevail in a very tight three way photo for place with Shoot To Kill and Baptisted By Fire, who go third and fourth. It’s about two lengths to Jolly Rook from them, then Antonym, Just Wanna Blaze, Cherokee Twins, Bob Mueller, Ginger Sand, and Hang Around.
About The Winner- Mintmach, trained by Nakamura Stables and ridden to victory by M J Sanchez, is a six year old gelding by Mint Slicer and is out of Pink Mach. He was bred by Australia Racing as a fourth quarter two year old in West Virginia, and acquired by Nakamura, via Nolespan Racing, for a $35.000 claim in October 2021. Congratulations to the connections! The win is his eighth in 25 starts, and his fourth stake win, all of which are graded. His career earnings are now $657.820.
Time: :233 :474 1:123 1:443
$2 Mutuel Prices:
$1 Exacta: 5 – 3 Paid 79.80
$1 Trifecta: 5 – 3 – 4 Paid 410.10
Categories: Grade III, STAKES ARTICLES