Challenge: One Special Angel

Chicks Special Angel is going for broke in the Challenge Championship.

Q-Racing Journal

Chicks Special Angel with jockey Eddie Aceves and Jose and Pedro Sanguino.

Chicks Special Angel knows how to win. In fact, in the past three years, the Oregon-bred mare has lost exactly twice in 16 starts.

She races for Miguel Sanguino of Hermiston, Oregon, and is responsible for bringing him back to racing.

“I used to be in horse racing for about four years,” he says. “Then one horse I had, he got hurt. I got (upset) and got out of horse racing for awhile.”

His brothers, who all together enjoy racing as a group hobby, spotted Chicks Special Angel during her 3-year-old year and thought she would make a great horse for Miguel.

“They thought she could be a good horse, and said, hey, if you want to come back to horse racing, this is a good horse for you,” Sanguino remembers. “I was like, no, I don’t want to have anything to do with racing.”

But they convinced him, and dropped a claim on the mare for a mere $5,000 in January 2012.

“From then on, she’s given me really good luck,” he says.

That is an understatement. The brothers, who all work together on their horses, changed her exercise program a little bit and made sure to give her the best care possible.

“We all work really hard on the horses,” Sanguino says. “We keep their feet in good shape, and give them all the things they need to be a good horse – the best feed, vitamins, everything. If you want to have a good horse, you have to feed them good. They can’t do miracles.”

Since the claim, the now-6-year-old has responded by winning 10 of 12 races while steadily climbing the class ladder. Her victories include the 2012 Autumn Handicap at Portland Meadows, and this year both the Merial Sun Downs Distaff Challenge and Bank of America Emerald Championship Challenge. Her only blemishes are a fourth-place run behind eventual Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) winner Vodka With Ice in the 2013 edition of the Bank of America Emerald Championship Challenge, in which she endured a rough trip, and a third-place finish behind fellow Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) contestant All Out Arrogant in the Cypress Handicap at Los Alamitos early this year.

All told, Chicks Special Angel has won or placed in 18 of 22 starts and earned $77,481.

“We have about 10 horses,” Sanguino says, noting she was the most talented of the group. “She is the most quiet in the stall. She doesn’t bite or kick. A 6-year-old kid could take her out of the stall. She is an amazing horse, very smart. When you take her to work her out, she’s very calm. I love this horse.

“But when she goes to run, as soon as they put the rider on her, she’s a different horse,” he adds. “She’s ready to go.”

Chicks Special Angel was bred by Richard and Fern Wilde of Redmond, Oregon. She is the first stakes winner by her sire, Chickspecialmongoose, and she is out of the Wildes’ homebred Super Bowl Dash mare CFF Plain Jane.

Chicks Special Angel qualified for both the Championship and Distaff races this year, and her owner chose to go for the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1).

“Might as well, you know?” he says. “It’s more money, and we think we have a chance. Hopefully everything goes good.”

They have also brought their gelding Bellingham (Check Him Out-My Ladys Eyes by Mr Eye Opener) to run in the Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge Championship.

So now, a few years, a close family and one good horse have brought Miguel into the highest level of races. This weekend he will join his brothers, Jose and Pedro, at the races to watch the mare and stablemate Bellingham run while the rest of the family cheers from home. His brothers tease him that he should be thankful they talked him into that claim.

“I said, of course I’m really thankful for that!” he says with a laugh.

The Bank of America Challenge Championships are October 18 at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa. Stay tuned to complete coverage from the Q-Racing Journal at www.aqharacing.com

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