Chess Chief Denies Owendale in New Orleans Classic Thriller


Contact: Brian Nadeau

Notes Writer/Media Relations

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Chess Chief Denies Owendale in New Orleans Classic Thriller

Dallas Stewart charge earns first graded stakes win

New Orleans (March 20, 2021) – The Estate of James Coleman’s Chess Chief rallied from last in the field of eight to nail .90-1 favorite Owendale on the wire in a thrilling 96th rendition of the $400,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) at Fair Grounds. Trained by Dallas Stewart and ridden by Luis Saez, Chess Chief completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.24.

In the early stages of the race, Roadster, with jockey John Velazquez in the saddle, led into the first turn through a moderate 24.11 quarter-mile fraction while Owendale and Florent Geroux tracked his every move to his outside hip. Chess Chief was nearly 5 lengths off the early pace-setting duo, while they completed a half-mile in 48.30. At the half-mile pole, Saez began asking Chess Chief to start closing ground on the leaders. At the top of the long Fair Grounds stretch, Roadster and Owendale continued to duel on the front end. Owendale took a clear advantage at the 3/16ths pole as Chess Chief continued to close ground down the center of the racecourse. Chess Chief surged late to win the narrowest of decisions.

“He finally gave me that last shot close to the wire to let us get by,” Saez said. “Everyone made a pretty early move. We tried to save ground at the rail. When we finally got the clear a lot of horses in front of us were backing up.”

Chess Chief rewarded his backers at 5.00-1. Owendale was a half-length in front of the hard-charging Enforceable, who finished third with Adam Beschizza.

“He’s by Into Mischief so we know he’s a quality horse,” Stewart said. “We are so grateful to train for Coleman family.”

Disqualified and placed sixth after crossing the line third in last year’s New Orleans Classic, Chess Chief most recently earned the show dough behind Maxfield in the locally run Mineshaft (G3). In winning his first career graded stakes, Chess Chief improved his record to 23-4-4-3 with $632,048 in earnings.


Additional New Orleans Classic Quotes:

Brad Cox trainer Owendale (2nd): It was an unfortunate photo on our end. No excuses. We had a good trip, just second best today. Going a mile-and-an-eighth it didn’t work out. We will take a look at the Alysheba (at Churchill Downs) next probably.

Adam Beschizza jockey Enforceable (3rd): He just grinded for me and kept giving me more. Another 1/8th mile and I think we win it. He never really got too far back even when other horses starting going by us.

David Carroll assistant trainer Enforceable (3rd): He ran much better today than last time. He was there with them. He bounced back. I’m not sure what’s next but we’ll talk it over and see.”


About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 13 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. The 149th Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 108th running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 26, 2020 through March 28, 2021. More information can be found online at

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