Team Forster’s Brushed by a Star, engaged in a stretch-long duel with Joyful Victory, prevailed by a head to win the 27th running of the Grade II, $168,900 Chilukki for fillies and mares on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Brushed by a Star, ridden by Corey Lanerie and trained by Grant Forster who heads the winning ownership group, clocked one mile in 1:37.16 over a track rated fast, despite intermittent rain showers throughout the day.
Brushed by a Star rated behind the leaders who carved out early fractions of :23.27 and :46.88 before angling out for the drive to take on Joyful Victory, who had a slight advantage. The two matched strides through the length of the Churchill Downs stretch, but Brushed by a Star proved best late.
Brushed by a Star paid $15.40, $6.40 and $3.80 as the 6-1 fourth choice. Joyful Victory, the 2-1 second choice with Robby Albarado up, returned $3.80 and $2.80. Salty Strike, the 9-5 favorite ridden by Victor Lebron, was another 5 ½ lengths back in third and paid $2.60. Juanita, Indulgence, Spectacular Sky, Bonnie’s Empire, Make a Toast, Dancinginherdreams and Brilliant Future completed the order of finish. Jemima’s Pearl was scratched.
Brushed by a Star recorded back-to-back stakes victories this summer by taking the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows and the Molly Pitcher (GII) at Monmouth Park. Prior to her runner-up effort in the Mari Hulman George, Brushed by a Star finished fifth behind Love and Pride in the Personal Ensign (GI) at Saratoga.
She cut back to a one-turn mile in the Chilukki, which honors the 3-year-old filly who won this event in track-record time (1:33.57) in 2000, after five straight races at 1 1/16 miles or further.
A 4-year-old daughter of Eddington, Brushed by a Star improved her record to 19-6-5-2—$441,991 with the first-place check of $99,482. She is scheduled to be sold as a racing and broodmare prospect at Fasig-Tipton November Sale on Monday (Nov. 5).
Earlier on the card, Maggi Moss’ Delaunay, trained by Tom Amoss and ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, ran away with the $61,100 Bet On Sunshine. The 5-year-old gelding beat Laurie’s Rocket by 5 ½ lengths while clocking six furlongs in 1:10.19 over a track rated fast. The son of Smoke Glacken paid $4 to win and banked $35,355. Overall, he has won 10 of 35 starts and $344,455.
Racing at Churchill Downs continues Sunday with a 10-race program that begins at 12:40 p.m. ET.
Grant Forster, trainer of Brushed by a Star, winner: “We’re just ecstatic. We were very concerned about the turn back to the one mile so I had her sharper than usual. We just kind of backed off on her and tried to train her a little lighter.
“When you’re at Churchill Downs you want to have Corey Lanerie in the saddle. He rode a great race and we were very lucky to beat Larry Jones’ filly (Joyful Victory).”
Q: When they hit the line, did you think you won? “I didn’t know. I thought we had a chance and you just hope you get the bob. Apparently we did, but I would have taken a dead heat.”
Q: And she’s going to the Fasig-Tipton November Sale on Monday, correct? “She’s going to the sale and we’re going to sell with a reserve. If we get a fair price, then we’ll sell her. If we don’t, we’re looking forward to racing her next year.”
Q: If she doesn’t sell, would you consider bringing her back in the Falls City (Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 22)? “If we don’t sell her, then we’ll be back in the Falls City.”
Corey Lanerie, jockey on Brushed by a Star, winner: “I had a good trip, but it wasn’t the trip I thought I was going to get. I thought I would be sitting second or third behind the 10 (Spectacular Sky) and maybe Joyful Victory, but they outbroke her today, so I just drafted in behind Salty Strike. I swung her to the outside turning for home and she got by them. I thought I was an easy winner and then Joyful Victory fought back to make it a close one.”
Q: Did you think you won? “I wasn’t sure. I actually thought Joyful Victory might have come back and gotten me. From where I was, it looked like she (Joyful Victory) might have gotten the lucky bob.”
Larry Jones, trainer of Joyful Victory, runner-up: (smiling) “We got a perfect trip. We got the trip we wanted considering the two hole. We knew we wanted to get off that rail and we did. Everything looked good, but (trainer) Grant (Forster)’s horse (Brushed by a Star) just ran really , really good. It was a good horse race. It’s just unfortunate that we had to lose it like that. I’d just as soon get beat by 10 lengths.”
Q: Anything else for her this year? “I really don’t know. We had hoped this race would set her up for the Falls City (GII on Nov. 22 at Churchill Downs). She’s going to stay right here. She runs two turns just as good as she does one.”
Robby Albarado, rider on Joyful Victory, runner-up: “It was a great race. It’s tough to lose one that way.”
Q: What did you think at the wire? “I didn’t know. It was close, I didn’t know. I just knew it was a head-bob. But she ran well. I had her everywhere I wanted to be except the winner’s circle.”
Ken McPeek, trainer of Salty Strike, third as the 9-5 favorite: “She ran a little flat. I thought she finished a little flat. He (Victor Lebron) rode her good. He had her in a good position and she just didn’t kick like she normally has. She’s run all year, though – north, south, east and west.
“I think she’s going to run next year. Mr. (Craig) Singer and I have already talked about it and he said he’d like to campaign her, and I think that’s a good move. She’s got a lot of talent.”
Victor Lebron, rider on Salty Strike, third as the 9-5 favorite: “She broke good. She was in good position. Going to the 3/8ths I thought I had a little more horse, but she just kind of faded on me. She seemed to come with her ‘A’ game and she broke good, but it just wasn’t her day.”
- END -