Carolyn and Fletcher Gray could have come up with some fantastic tale touting their incredible insight.
The Missouri-based owners/breeders could have spoken about how they saw that "it" factor in the smallish chestnut filly produced from one of their seven broodmares. They could have said that was why, despite selling in the commercial marketplace for a living, they held onto the future Grade I winner and Breeders' Cup Distaff contender.
But since they're as sweetly straightforward as they are affable, Fletcher Gray didn't try to spin what really happened in the Keeneland sales pavilion during the 2013 September Yearling Sale.
"No one else wanted her," he grinned.
And grin the Grays have, never more than when their filly I'm a Chatterbox scored her first Grade I win in the Cotillion Stakes at Parx on Sept. 19.
She is still small and still likely to get overlooked in the beauty contest when the 14-horse field for the Distaff heads into Keeneland's starting gate on Friday evening. But if her career has proven anything, it's that ignoring the daughter of Munnings is a risk.
When defending Distaff winner Untapable was declared out of the race on Tuesday after spiking a fever, an already wide-open edition of the 11⁄8-mile, $2 million race became even more up for grabs.
Three of the last four Distaffs have been won by 3-year-old fillies, and one could argue that no sophomore female this year has been as consistently good as I'm a Chatterbox.
Since breaking her maiden over the Keeneland surface last Oct. 15, the Larry Jones trainee has been worse than third just once in 10 career starts. She has crossed the wire in front in two Grade I races, but was disqualified to second for interference on Curalina in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga on July 26.
What I'm a Chatterbox has given the Grays goes beyond the $1,304,614 in career earnings to date. They have a grand total of four horses in training. They have bred such standouts as champion and 2008 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Stardom Bound.
And because I'm a Chatterbox was a buyback after bringing a final bid of $30,000, the Grays now get the full benefits of one of their own having success.
"We normally sell, that's how we make our living," Carolyn Gray said. "We bred Stardom Bound but it was so exciting for us to own (I'm a Chatterbox). We feel very blessed, we really do. We were talking about that driving over, that this time last year we thought she was nice but you can't predict.
"The people who say, 'Oh yeah, that's the one I thought was going to be great,' I don't believe that. But I asked Larry, 'Is this where we need to be?' and he said she is deserving of this spot. She needs to be here, she has proven herself that she can hang with these fillies."
Jones is known for his deft handling of fillies. And since taking over the training of I'm a Chatterbox from Ken McPeek this year, the only time he has seen the filly finish a race behind other horses is when she was third to stablemate Lovely Maria in the Kentucky Oaks.
Since opening her 2015 campaign with a gate-to-wire 8-length win in the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds on Jan. 17, I'm a Chatterbox has taken every piece of work thrown at her during seven starts this year and is still improving.
"From a training standpoint, it's just pure luck, I'll be honest with you, to keep them going all year," said Jones, who is seeking his first career Breeders' Cup win. "And now you figure she's gone a little over a year because she started here last year. It's tough. That's why we gave them a little break after the Oaks, her and Lovely Maria.
"We know Chatterbox is good right now, so we're going to roll this. Chatterbox has just held up to it, she has just done it. And she'll do whatever you want to do, that's the thing about her. She doesn't care."
I'm a Chatterbox's versatile running style will be needed as she breaks from post No. 1 in the Distaff under Florent Geroux.
Multiple Grade I winner and 9-2 morning-line second choice Sheer Drama figures to be sitting in that first tier out of post No. 14, as she was when she captured the Grade I Personal Ensign and Grade I Delaware Handicap.
Got Lucky is one of three entrants from the barn of Todd Pletcher and has already proven she likes Keeneland with her win in the Grade I Juddmonte Spinster on Oct. 4.
Once the field turns for home, they may all be fighting to get by Kiaran McLaughlin trainee Wedding Toast — the 4-1 favorite — as she winged away on the lead during her wins in the Grade I Ogden Phipps and Beldame at Belmont Park.
"It's a really good bunch," Jones said of the Distaff field. "Chatterbox has earned herself into it and we do think she is the best 3-year-old filly going. And Wedding Toast, I keep trying to tell myself 'Well she loves Belmont.'
"We're just hoping I don't look like an idiot come Saturday morning."