By Chris Lomon
It might be an “American” that’s understandably getting the lion’s share of press ahead of Saturday’s much-ballyhooed Belmont Stakes, but could a Canadian-connected colt be the one to deny his bid for Triple Crown glory?
All eyes will be on the striking American Pharoah, the Ahmed Zayat-owned three-year-old sensation who took the Kentucky Derby on May 2 by a length after a tough trip, and then reigned supreme in the rain when taking all the spoils in the Preakness Stakes.
Affirmed was the last horse to experience Triple Crown stardom, sweeping all three races in 1978. Since then, there have been 13 others who have won the Derby and Preakness but came up short in the Belmont.
Maybe, just maybe, Madefromlucky, an improving chestnut trained by Todd Pletcher for Erin, Ont., horseman, Mac Nichol, and Everett Dobson - one of the owners of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder - could be the one to net the upset in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.
Nichol owns Ideal Training Centre, a 50-acre property with accommodation for 123 horses accompanied by a five-eighths mile training track in Erin, about an hour’s drive northwest of Toronto.
He has won several notable harness racing events, either as a majority owner or partner, including the Little Brown Jug and the North America Cup in 2007 with Tell All, the 2011 Breeders Crown three-year-old filly pace with Monkey On My Wheel and the Confederation Cup with American Ideal.
Madefromlucky, who fended off a closing Conquest Curlinate to win the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan at Belmont Park by a length on May 9, could provide Nichol with another memorable score.
The Peter Pan was the first stakes triumph for the son of 2010 Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky. Madefromlucky had come into the race off a second and a fourth to American Pharoah at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 2 Rebel and the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, respectively.
He could have more than luck on his side this weekend.
Madefromlucky is the sole thoroughbred member of the “Stable of Horses That God Loves”, a fundraising program for the Standardbred Racetrack Chaplaincy of Canada. As part of the program, one per cent of his purse earnings in 2015 will be donated to the chaplaincy, which is dedicated to providing for the emotional, physical, spiritual and human needs of the horse racing work force in southwestern Ontario.
Javier Castellano will ride Madefromlucky (Post 3, 12-1 morning line odds) in the 147th running of the Belmont, which is scheduled to get out of the gates at 6:50 p.m. ET.