July 15, 2010

Jimmy Durante says “Hot Cha Cha”

Couldn’t you just imagine Jimmy Durante being a huge fan of Hot Cha Cha? Granted I am taking some literary license here, as the famous line of the legendary entertainer was more like Ha Cha Cha Chaaaa, but hey, I don’t think the Schnozzola would mind if he was still with us. Hot Cha Cha is a four-year-old daughter of Cactus Ridge, owned and bred by Nelson McMakin, and she is the Midwestern representative of a tri-headed star war in Saturday’s Grade 3 Modesty Stakes at Arlington Park. And come Saturday, I have to believe that Durante will be watching from above.

With California streaker Tuscan Evening getting the lion’s share of the attention, and the East Coast based, and well traveled Rainbow View, with Jonathan Sheppard and Julien Leparoux in her corner, also garnering major attention, Hot Cha Cha could be the forgotten star. But a star she is. She proved that last year with overpowering victories over this course and then at Keeneland. She ran right by a solid field in Arlington’s Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes last September with regualar rider James Graham, before entering the most important race for three-year-old turf filliesin America, the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in October. She crushed her competition by 4 ½ lengths on that day, icing the soggy field like Frosty the Snowman. Durante would have been proud … “Hot Cha Cha!”

Making those consecutive wins even more impressive were the respective turf conditions. In the Pucker Up,  Hot Cha Cha caught a dry, firm grass course, while in Kentucky, for the QE II, soft, bog like conditions were the order of the day. Since those wins, troubled trips beat her a few times, but each time the sophomore filly has accounted herself well. She is coming off a professional score in the Locust Grove at Churchill Downs in June.

Trainer Phil Sims believes his star filly has the stamina to love the extra distance of her next two races, the Modesty, and then the big prize, next month’s Beverly D, are both run at 1 3/16 miles. This is farther than Hot Cha Cha has ever been, but with the way she finishes her 9 furlong races, there is good reason to believe that Sims will be right.

Tuscan Evening will be favored, and Rainbow View may be preferred as the second choice, but discount the Midwest filly at your own peril. As they cross the wire on Saturday afternoon, listen closely, and you just might hear Jimmy Durante saying, “Hot Cha Cha!” or maybe that will be me…I do a pretty bad imitation of Durante.

Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!


Unknown said...

OK, Now I see the tie-in! This is amusing write, enjoyed reading it. and I'll keep Miss Cha Cha in mind ;)

Brian Zipse said...

There is a connection ... I swear! LOL, thanks Jane! Keep an eye on her, she is a good one.

Unknown said...

Hmm I got a million of them is another quote Jimmy D used to say. Is that the other connection ?