Kentucky Derby contender profile: Chares

March 4th, 2020

From a yearling nobody wanted, to a stakes winner with a world of potential, Chares has come a long way in a short time.

Although Chares joined the European Road to the Kentucky Derby with a frontrunning victory in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition S. on Wednesday, it remains to be seen whether his connections will set their sights on the Derby or pursue alternative targets in other corners of the globe.

A German-bred son of classy sprinter Ivawood, out of the Titus Livius mare Coco Demure, Chares was offered for sale in France as a yearling, but bidding stalled at $36,602, and the colt failed to meet his reserve.

Subsequently placed in training, under the care of Christophe Ferland, Chares showed plenty of promise as a juvenile. Racing at the smaller provincial tracks in France, Chares went undefeated in three starts. He won his first two starts sprinting 7 furlongs, before he stretched out to a mile and claiming the Criterium de Lyon by a neck. Shortly afterward,Chares was offered for sale as a racing prospect, and this time bidding soared to $779,482.

Given the winter off, Chares returned to action in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition S. at Kempton in England, where he debuted for new owner Y. H. Yue and trainer Jane Chapple-Hyam.

Despite a switch from grass to synthetic, Chares was favored at 7-4 in the 1-mile race and rewarded his backers with a comfortable victory. Sent straight to the lead by jockey John Egan, Chares held on gamely in the final furlong to win by 1 1/4 lengths. He stopped the timer in 1:39.47 over a course labeled standard to slow.

Chares clearly has talent and emerged better than ever in his sophomore debut. Whether his campaign will involve the Kentucky Derby is another question entirely.

With 20 European Road to the Kentucky Derby qualification points under his belt, Chares has a strong chance to secure a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. But since previously established plans call for Chares to race in Hong Kong this year, he hasn’t been nominated to the Triple Crown.

The allure of the Kentucky Derby can be enticing, but Chares has the pedigree of a turf miler, which suggests a foray in Hong Kong will be a better fit.