Carmalley Chrome shines in Merrillville Stakes

Carmalley Chrome was back to her winning ways Wednesday, Sept. 14, winning the 22nd running of the $100,000-added Merrillville Stakes at Indiana Grand. The three-year-old chestnut daughter of Cat Dreams scored the gate to wire win in a time of 1:10.07 for the six-furlong sprint with jockey Rodney Prescott aboard. The win marked the third of the day for Prescott, who is Indiana’s all-time leading jockey for wins.

Carmalley Chrome and Jockey Rodney Prescott connected for their third stakes win of 2016 at Indiana Grand Wednesday, Sept. 7 in the $100,000 Merrillville Stakes. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Carmalley Chrome and Jockey Rodney Prescott connected for their third stakes win of 2016 at Indiana Grand Wednesday, Sept. 7 in the $100,000 Merrillville Stakes. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Starting from post six was the ideal spot for Carmalley Chrome, who is known for her quick speed. The sophomore filly rallied out early and got control of the pace, setting the quarter time at :22.57. She kept Picante Caliente and Richard Bracho and Ralla’s Rally and Dick Cardenas in stalking position behind her. Heading into the turn, Carmalley Chrome was able to open up slightly on the field, which put her at an advantage for the late closers of the race, including race favorite Joyous Lady and Tommy Pompell.

By the time Carmalley Chrome reached the top of the stretch, she had built up a five-plus length lead and at that point, no one could touch her. She kept focused on the finish line and floated under the wire for the win, her fifth in eight starts for 2016. Joyous Lady moved up for second while She Mabee Wild and Jon Court, who scored win 3,994 earlier in the day at Indiana Grand, maintained ground inside for third.

“I knew she (Carmalley Chrome) didn’t have to be on the lead, but she was going so comfortable today,” said Prescott. “We were going really fast but she was doing it so easy. Because we were going so fast, I was expecting them to come at us late, but they never did. She hugs the rail well so turning for home she was able to get a good jump on them.”

Owner-Breeder Tom Roche accepts the Merrillville Stakes trophy from Joyse Bannister of the Indiana Breed Development. Joining Roche on the right is Trainer Mike Nance and Jockey Rodney Prescott. Also assisting with the presentation on the far left is Kevin Greely, director of racing, and Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing at Indiana Grand. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Owner-Breeder Tom Roche accepts the Merrillville Stakes trophy from Joyse Bannister of the Indiana Breed Development. Joining Roche on the right is Trainer Mike Nance and Jockey Rodney Prescott. Also assisting with the presentation on the far left is Kevin Greely, director of racing, and Jon Schuster, vice president and general manager of racing at Indiana Grand. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Owned and bred by Tom Roche, Carmalley Chrome was unraced at two. She now has in excess of $250,000 in career earnings, representing Roche’s Carmalley Valley Farm of Saint Charles, Mo. in a big way.

“We had it narrowed down to naming her Carmalley Chrome or Bossy Cat,” said Roche in a post race interview with Rachel McLaughlin, on-air racing personality for Indiana Grand. “Either name would have fit her, but we decided on Carmalley Chrome. I’d also like to say how pleased I am with the Indiana program, and we are glad to be part of it.”

Carmalley Chrome is trained by Mike Nance, who is among the track’s top 10 all-time leading trainers. He is no stranger to stakes wins in Indiana. The win with Carmalley Chrome marks the third win in the Merrillville Stakes for Nance.

“She (Carmalley Chrome) is an absolute sweetheart to be around,” said Nance. “She is pretty much a professional about everything. She gets a little fired up when we are saddling in the paddock but that’s about it.”

Nance had told Prescott, a longtime jockey for his stable that reaching the lead wasn’t an absolute must. However, unlike her last start in the Shelby County Stakes when she was pressured early by an opponent through very swift fractions, her post position actually gave her an advantage from the start.

“I told Rodney (Prescott) before the race to let the two (Ralla’s Rally) go if she wanted to go, but our filly (Carmalley Chrome) broke so sharp today,” said Nance. “She just rolled with it. Not being on the inside this time gave her an advantage so she wasn’t put in a position to get pressured.”