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Leah's Secret Cruises to Victory in Chilukki (GII)
(Nov. 2, 2008) – Leah’s Secret, ridden by Rene Douglas, cruised to her third graded stakes triumph with a half-length victory over Unforgotten in Sunday’s $170,400 Chilukki Stakes (Grade II) for fillies and mares age 3 and up at Churchill Downs.
The 5-year-old mare, owned by WinStar Farm and trained by Todd Pletcher, ran one mile over a “fast” track in 1:35.68.
Leah’s Secret was forwardly placed in the early stages of the testing one-turn mile race and tracked quarter-mile fractions of :23.35 and :46.51. While positioned to the outside, she pulled herself into contention with a three-wide move on the turn for home, but Douglas resisted the urge to ask for her best run. Finally, after four glances over his right shoulder, the jockey dropped his hands with a furlong to run, gave a few taps of the crop to her right hip and the mare responded willingly for the victory.
Leah’s Secret paid $8.60, $4.80 and $3.80 as the 3-1 second betting choice in the field of 10 fillies and mares. Unforgotten, the 21-1 longshot who closed from the back to earn the place, returned $16.20 and $9. Swift Temper finished third at odds of 6-1 and paid $5.40.
Initforthekandy, 2-1 favorite Copper State, Tiz to Dream, Amazing Speed, Super Freaky, Marquee Delivery and Striking Tomisue completed the order of finish. Baroness Thatcher, the 3-1 morning line favorite, was scratched by trainer Bill Mott.
The handsome first prize of $100,366 surged Leah’s Secret’s career earnings to $775,805. It was her seventh victory in 24 starts and second trip to the winner’s circle this year. In June, the Florida-bred daughter of Tiger Ridge won the Chicago Handicap (GIII) at Arlington Park. Two years ago at age 3, she won the Raven Run (GII) at Keeneland.
Live racing at Churchill Downs resumes Wednesday with a 10-race program that begins at 12:40 p.m. ET. Unlike recent years, there will be no live racing on Election Day this Tuesday. Instead, Churchill Downs will stage a special Veterans Day program on Tuesday, Nov. 11.
A pair of graded stakes races for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf highlight the week ahead. The $175,000-added Mrs. Revere for fillies will be run Saturday. The open $100,000-added Commonwealth Turf is set for Sunday.
Travis Stone, the 24-year-old who is the track announcer for Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, will describe the week’s action as Churchill Downs continues its search for the next “Voice of the Kentucky Derby” following the unexpected death of Luke Kruytbosch in July. Each week during the five-week Fall Meet there will be a different track announcer. Calder’s Bobby Neuman finished opening-week duties. Also scheduled for a turn are Golden Gate’s Michael Wrona (Nov. 11-16); Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park and Suffolk Downs’ Larry Collmus (Nov. 19-23); and England’s Mark Johnson (Nov. 26-29).
The coming week’s promotional calendar is highlighted by the first of three collectable hurricane glass giveaways that salute popular Cajun jockeys who ride at Churchill Downs. A Calvin Borel glass, sponsored by Thorntons, will be given away to the first 5,000 paid and pre-paid admissions on Saturday. Also, New Orleans-themed “Friday Happy Hours” – featuring $2 Budweiser Select, $2 hurricanes, $2 Fischer’s hot dogs and live jazz music – will be held Friday from 3-5 p.m. in the upper Jockey Club’s paddock balcony area.
POST-RACE QUOTES – THE CHILUKKI
TODD PLETCHER (via telephone), trainer of LEAH’S SECRET (Winner)
“She won the Chicago Breeders’ Cup at Arlington and that was a big one, and this one was, too. She’s run consistently well for us and we had a big second there to Ginger Punch in the spring (in the Grade II Louisville), so we knew she liked the track and felt like she was doing well, so it was nice to see her step up and run a big one.”
Q: They were running at her down the stretch – were you concerned in the late going?
“It looked like Rene was pretty confident turning for home and he waited as long as he could. But she got the job done and finished up pretty good.”
Q: Any chance you’ll run her back in the Falls City on Thanksgiving Day?
“I don’t know, that’s possibility. We’ll keep an eye on that. We’ll also keep an eye on the Top Flight. It seems like she really excels at a one turn. A one-turn mile may be her best trip.”
RENE DOUGLAS, jockey on LEAH’S SECRET (Winner)
“The first time I rode this filly in Chicago (in the Grade III Arlington Matron) and she just got beat. She was going good, but she just stopped. I told Micheal (McCarthy), the assistant, the next time I rode her that that this filly would win this time – I know what happened. You’ve got to time it perfectly with her. She got the lead and then she just kind of waited for horses and I got beat. Today, that’s what I had to do. I said all I need to do is to time it right with this filly, and if everything goes right we’ll win. I wasn’t scared of anyone in the race. I was scared more of the timing. I didn’t want to be too far back, but I didn’t want to give this horse a chance to stop. I actually I got the lead a little earlier than I expected – I didn’t want it that early. That’s why I kept looking on the outside, because I didn’t want to make that move. She’s a nice filly against anybody, but timing is the key with her.”
DALLAS STEWART, trainer of UNFORGOTTEN (runner-up)
“She ran great. She ran the best race of her life. She loves Churchill – she always runs good here. It’s a great race – she’s just getting better all the time.”
MIGUEL MENA, jockey on UNFORGOTTEN (runner-up)
“She was second best. It looked like she just ran out of ground and needed a sixteenth of a mile more than that to catch the winner. She had a good trip. She saved ground on the turn and I swung her out down the stretch. That’s the way she likes to run.”
Q: You probably could have used a little more pace – they weren’t going very fast up front…
“They were going kind of slow for a stake. That first quarter was pretty slow. But she ran hard, she ran nice.”
KENT DESORMEAUX, jockey on SWIFT TEMPER (third)
“She’s a nice filly. She gave me a big effort.”
Q: Any trouble during the race?
“She got tangled up leaving the gate. She’s trickling a little blood on her shin, so I know she got tangled up. That was an event that I wish hadn’t of happened. She was in the bridle – strong in the bridle – and that’s probably why she got in a little bit of a tangle leaving there.”
Q: Did you think you had a shot down the stretch?
“I thought I was a winner around the turn. I had an arm full of horse. Unfortunately she wasn’t fast of foot, but she was trying.”
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