Sixth Win in Six-Furlong Sprint for Hall of Fame Trainer Asmussen
LAUREL, MD – Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Ryvit, stepping up to graded-stakes company for the first time, extended his win streak to four races with a 1 ¾-length triumph in Saturday’s $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) presented by Case IH at historic Pimlico Race Course.
The 47th running of the six-furlong Chick Lang for 3-year-olds was the second of 10 stakes, six graded, worth $2.75 million in purses headlined by the 148th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
With Tyler Gaffalione riding in place of Keith Asmussen, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen who broke a finger in a starting gate incident at Lone Star Park Thursday, Ryvit ($12.80) covered the distance in 1:09.33 over a fast main track to give the elder Asmussen his sixth Chick Lang victory.
Asmussen, the only trainer in North American history with more than 10,000 career wins, also won the Chick Lang with Lantana Mob (2008), Holy Boss (2015), Mitole (2018), Yaupon (2020) and Mighty Mischief (2021). Mighty Mischief, Yaupon and champion Mitole were all owned by the Heiligbrodts.
Multiple graded-stakes winner Havnameltdown, the 4-5 favorite, broke slowly from the rail allowing Gaffalione and Ryvit to establish command up front. Havnameltdown and Luis Saez were able to move into a stalking position by the first quarter of a mile, which went in 22.23 seconds, and the two rounded the far turn side-by-side. Approaching the stretch, Havnameltdown stumbled and dropped Saez while Ryvit was able to continue on and draw clear of late-running Prince of Jericho.
Frosted Departure, Prove Right, Super Chow and Bristol Channel completed the order of finishRyvit earned his fourth win from seven career starts and second straight in a stakes following a front-running triumph in the six-furlong Bachelor April 29 at Oaklawn Park. The Competitive Edge colt broke his maiden fourth time out March 25 and stepped up to win an optional claimer April 14, both also sprinting three-quarters at Oaklawn.
It was the first Chick Lang victory for Gaffalione, a Florida native and winner of the 2015 Eclipse Award as champion apprentice.
Run as the Hirsch Jacobs Stakes from its 1975 inception to 2009, the Chick Lang was renamed in honor of the racing industry legend widely known as ‘Mr. Preakness,’ who passed away in 2010 at the age of 83.
Note: Jockey Luis Saez, who was unseated from his mount, was taken to a local hospital saying he felt leg pain. His mount Havnameltdown was euthanized.
$200,000 Chick Lang (G3) Quotes
Winning Trainer Steve Asmussen (Ryvit): “Keith is extremely proud of the horse. The Chick Lang is a race that has been obviously very good for us. I think that’s our sixth winner, most all of them belong to the Heiligbrodts. He’s a very nice horse, and proud of the fact that he came out of the Texas yearling sale and that he can compete and win at this level.”
(Bittersweet with Keith not being able to ride?) “No. It’s great that the horse won and proved himself. I think it’s unfortunate that Keith broke his finger on Thursday. I’m proud of him for making the decision of putting the horse in front of himself. I think it says a lot and proves who he is. Somehow, I think he’ll have plenty of my support when he comes back.”
“The key to him has been getting away from the gates. Keith working him in the mornings and getting him to break is what turned him around. That’s the only thing I said to Tyler, ‘If you can get him to jump well from the gates, you’ll like how he responds.’ And that his what he did.”
“Somebody asked me if he’s another Mitole (his 2019 champion sprinter who won the 2018 Chick Lang). I said, ‘No. He is not Mitole. Mitole is absolutely special. But he’s a very good horse with a lot to prove to try to get to Mitole’s level.”
“Coming off of here is everything we’ve wanted to see. Obviously the sprint stakes at Saratoga are lucrative and what we will aim for next.”
Winning Jockey Tyler Gaffalione (Ryvit): “That was very unfortunate and hopefully Luis (Saez) is okay. We were kind of heads up, and he just kind of disappeared. I looked back and I saw Luis coming off the side. Hopefully, nothing serious. I feel terrible Keith (Asmussen) wasn’t able to ride him (Ryvit) today. He’s a great young kid and an up-and-coming rider, so he’ll get plenty of those.”
Jockey Sheldon Russell (Prince of Jericho, 2nd): “We tried him going long. Obviously, it hasn’t been working. I got off him the last time in the Tesio and sort of threw my hands up for not giving him the best of rides, as we were stuck down inside the whole time. In fair play, he tried hard last time, but it was start, stop, start, stop. He is a pretty aggressive horse. I thought today was a great effort. Maybe he is now a closing sprinter against better horses. Just happy he regrouped himself. He bounced back off a poor performance and showed up today.”
Trainer Kenny McPeek (Frosted Departure, 3rd): “He had a lot of trouble. He had to check when the 1- horse (Havnameltdown) kind of cut inside of him. Then he said he just took back and waited. Then he had to avoid the incident.”
Jockey Flavien Prat (Frosted Departure, 3rd): “He ran a great race. He tried hard. We love him.”
Trainer Bob Baffert (Havnameltdown): “We never had an issue with him. We are so careful with all these horses, and it still happens. It is something that is disheartening. I feel so bad for that horse, and I just hope that Luis (Saez) is ok. The way he was riding him; the horse was moving, he was going on with it. He looked like the winner … it’s the worst feeling. And we grieve. We do grieve when these things happen. There is nothing worse than coming back and the stall is empty. He is a nice horse. He could not have been doing any better. It’s sickening. I am in shock.”