Sweet Music

Courtesy of Becky Johnston

Sweet Music

With the mid-week lull upon us and all the disqualification controversy following Proud Spell's demotion from second in the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes on Saturday, I can't help but think about the overshadowed winner.  She seems to have gotten lost with the rough riding that took place behind her, but Music Note, by A.P. Indy, looks like she could be special.  She is a winner of her last three starts and three of four overall.

The three-year-old bay filly with the crooked blaze is out of the Sadler's Wells mare, Note Musicale, making her a half sister to one of my favorite, hard-luck mares, French Classic and American Grade 1 winner Musical Chimes, by In Excess (Ire).  When things went her way, she was brilliant.  When she got too anxious her races were like rollercoaster rides.  She was never boring.

The tongue-wagging filly had a habit of running with her head high in the air and she didn't mind getting aggressive when challenged or finding herself in tight spots early, which was often followed by poor finishes.  But when she had her eye on the prize, she was fun to watch.


An American in Paris

The Kentucky bred started her two-year-old season in France with Andre Fabre for Gainsborough Farms.  She ran three times as a two-year-old, with her only win negated by disqualification (which would be no surprise to those that followed her subsequent career).  After the disqualification in her second start, she had a sixth place effort in the Grade 3 Prix Miesque Stakes at Maisons-Laffitte racecourse north of Paris.  Then the filly was put away for the season.

Musical Chimes started her three-year-old campaign in March of 2003 at Saint Cloud Racecourse with a fourth place finish.  The next month she officially broke her maiden in her fifth start at Longchamp in the Prix Fould at one mile over a yielding course. 

She repeated that effort on May 11, going off at 12-1 in the Grade 1 Classic 1000 Guineas at Longchamp over a mile on good turf.  She defeated Maiden Tower and the very talented 9-4 favorite Etoile Montante in a roughly contested race.  All three of these fillies would make their way to Southern California.


The Golden State

Muscial Chimes ran two more times in France (Chantilly and Deauville) with one placing in a Group 1 race before being shipped to Santa Anita to run in the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon at a mile and a quarter.  Prepping for the Breeder's Cup, she was partnered with Gary Stevens for the first time, she finished second, less than a length behind Juddmonte Farms' standout Tates Creek. 

A month later she would make her first start for trainer Neil Drysdale.  She went off as one of the top three selections in the Breeder's Cup Filly and Mare Turf, where she would finish a troubled 11th of 12 behind champion Islington on a hot day at Santa Anita.  The filly fought with jockey Gary Stevens early and then made a sharp drop on the far turn to finish a disappointing 22 lengths behind the winner, the worst showing of her career.

At the end of November, she bounced back in the Grade 1 Matriarch at Hollywood Park shortening up to her best distance, one mile.  With Edgar Prado in the saddle, the filly would settle much better and make her charge to fall a neck short to another Juddmonte Farms' standout, Heat Haze.

That would finish her three-year-old campaign. 


Better with age

She re-emerged May 30 of the next year under new jockey Kent Desormeaux as the favorite in the opening race on a Saturday afternoon at Hollywood Park.  The race was a conditioned allowance going a mile against the boys.  She went off as the favorite and finished a fast closing runner-up to Stage Player. 

Her next race was in mid-June, where she again faced the males in the Grade 1 mile and a quarter, Charlie Whittingham Stakes, won by Sabiango.   Again, she found trouble in tight quarters during this race and she finished a non-threatening seventh by four lengths.

July found Musical Chimes back in with the distaff division and she won the Grade 1 John Mabee Stakes at Del Mar, going a mile and an eight with her now regular rider Kent Desormeaux.  She won the race by a little better than a length, but the rider had been so confident down the lane that he didn't urge her to run until the last few jumps and then only hands and heels.  Moscow Burning was second in this race, but our heroine finally got the measure of a talented Juddmonte Farms' filly in Light Jig.

The next race for the four-year-old filly was the prestigious sister-race to the Arlington Million, the Grade 1 Beverly D. in August.  The race, run at a mile and three-sixteeths, would see her go off the favorite.  She ran fourth, less than a length back after dueling wide.  The winner was Godolphin's Crimson Palace and Foxridge Farm's Riskaverse running second.

This would be a painful weekend as the Drysdale trained and Gainsborough owned colt Storming Home, a sure winner in the Arlington Million, bolted near the wire only to see himself disqualified to fourth place and sending rider Gary Stevens to the hospital. 

Storming Home (GB) was a three-time Grade 1 winner out of a half-sister to Note Musicale, Try to Catch Me, by Shareef Dancer. 

With a six-week rest under her Drysdale's filly she re-appeared at her favorite distance in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile against the boys, where she would gain her last victory.  She defeated Trudy McCaffery & John Toffan's Buckland Manor and eventual Breeders Cup Mile winner Singletary in style.  Musical Chimes rated well off the lead, rallied wide off the turn and looked both of her male counterparts, on either side of her, in the eye and defiantly stuck her nose in front right at the wire to become the first filly to win the race.

Her next start would come in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Lone Star Park, where she would once again find herself repeatedly steadied.  She finished sixth by three to Singletary, a horse she had just defeated in her last start.

Musical Chimes ran again in the Matriach in November.  Unfortunately, she never menaced the winner, another Juddmonte Farms' filly, Intercontinental and the runner-up Etoile Montante, her old rival from France. 

She was rested until February.  She came back as a five-year-old with a new jockey in Edgar Prado and a new surface, dirt.  She ran pretty average in the mile and a sixteenth Santa Maria at Santa Anita with a fifth place finish of eight runners. 

In her last start the mare returned to the turf and gave the males one last look at her in the Frank Kilroe Handicap run at a mile at Santa Anita Park.  Musical Chimes was running beautifully, then found herself boxed at mid-stretch, checked off heels only to re-rally to be an unlucky fifth by just two lengths.  The eventual Eclipse champion turf horse for 2005, Leroidesanimaux, won and Buckland Manner ran second.

She was retired three days later. 

While her in-the-money record really doesn't speak to her talent, 20 starts with only four wins and four other placings, she did compile earnings of $965,489.  With a little luck she could have accomplished so much more.


Lasting memories or a fleeting thought?

Now we have her half-sister, Music Note, on the cusp of her fourth win in just, what we hope, will be her fifth start.  The question is, will we get to enjoy her more than just a handful of performances or will she be rushed off to the breeding shed? 

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