Magdalena Racing’s Grade I winner Pure Fun, who returned from a five-month layoff to prevail in the $202,300 Indiana Oaks (GII), heads a deep field of 12 fillies and mares entered for Saturday’s 28th running of the $150,000-added Chilukki (GII) at Churchill Downs.
The one-mile Chilukki, which honors the filly who won this event at age 3 in 2000 while setting a track record (1:33.57), will go as the final race on a 10-race card that begins at 2:15 p.m. (all times Eastern) to coincide with a simulcast of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Post time for the Chilukki is 8:15 p.m. – 20 minutes before the $5 million Classic is staged at Santa Anita.
Pure Fun’s class was undeniable in the Oct. 5 Indiana Oaks as she returned from a 155-day absence to defeat Oscar Party by 1 ¾ lengths over a sloppy course with odds-on favorite Fiftyshadesofhay in third.
“That was a great win for her,” trainer Kenny McPeek. “She had problems in the spring – from a fever to an ankle – and we were behind the eight ball trying to get her ready. She proved she’s a top mare.”
A winner of the Hollywood Starlet at 2, the 3-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Pure Prize out of the Key to the Mint mare Chelsea Green has won four of 12 starts and $482,652. She’s won the most money among the dozen Chilukki entrants.
Pure Fun, who will turn-back in distance and face elders for the first time, will break from the outside stall under Victor Lebron, who guided her to victory at Indiana Downs.
“It’s unfortunate to draw the 12-hole, but we have a long run to the turn in the one-turn mile so she should be okay,” McPeek said. “She’s hitting on all cylinders.”
Becky Winemiller’s Wine Princess, who was third behind Emollient and Summer Applause in the Oct. 6 Spinster (GI) at Keeneland, may prove to be Pure Fun’s stiffest competition. Trained by Steve Margolis and to be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, the 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly has finished first or second in eight of 11 starts and banked $330,761. Her biggest career win came in last year’s $101,000 Monmouth Oaks (GIII).
Other graded stakes winners in the field include Gardenia (GIII) champ Devious Intent, Doubledogdare (GIII) heroine Ice Cream Silence, Ontario Matron (Can-GIII) winner Sisterly Love and improving 3-year-old filly Sky Girl, who won the Dogwood (GIII) during Churchill Downs’ inaugural September Meet for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
“Rusty” Arnold III, who trains G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Ice Cream Silence, has won the Chilukki a record three times with Darien Miss (1988), Dream Scheme (1998) and Let (1999). The latter two were owned by Humphrey.
The complete Chilukki field, from the rail out (with jockey): Don’t Tell Sophia (Joe Rocco Jr.); Awesome Flower (Channing Hill); Cho Cho Cat (John McKee); Devious Intent (Jesus Castanon); Sisterly Love (Miguel Mena); Ire (Ricardo Santana Jr.); Soft Whisper (Marcelino Pedroza); Magic Hour (Francisco Torres); Wine Princess (Bridgmohan); Ice Cream Silence (Jon Court); Sky Girl (Corey Lanerie); and Pure Fun (Lebron). All but Sky Girl (118 pounds) and Pure Fun (120 pounds) will carry 121 pounds.
Saturday’s undercard includes the sixth running of the $60,000 Bet On Sunshine, which goes as Race 4 at 4:01 p.m. The field of eight 3-year-olds and up entered for the overnight stakes race is led by George Kerr’s Good Morning Diva, who finished third behind Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile entrants Pants On Fire and Taptowne in the Sept. 7 Ack Ack Handicap (GIII) for trainer Rick Hiles.
The Bet On Sunshine field: Ghost Is Clear (Castanon); Laurie’s Rocket (Lebron); Jasizzle (Rocco); Good Morning Diva (Lanerie); Marchman (Mena); Right to Vote (Court); Rothko (Santana); and Platitude (Bridgmohan).
Churchill Downs admission gates will open at 12:30 p.m. in advance of the special 2:15 p.m. first race (post time is typically 12:40 p.m.). A simulcast of the 12-race Breeders’ Cup Championship Saturday card from Santa Anita will begin at 1:15 p.m. and the nine Breeders’ Cup races will cover Races 4-12 from 3:05 p.m. to 8:35 p.m.
Churchill Downs’ racing action, which attracted 108 entries for the 10-race program for an average of 10.8 horses per race – is positioned well before and after each Breeders’ Cup simulcast: Race 1 (2:15 p.m.), Race 2 (2:45 p.m.), Race 3 (3:23 p.m.), Race 4 (4:01 p.m.), Race 5 (4:45 p.m.), Race 6 5:25 p.m.), Race 7 (6:05 p.m.), Race 8 (6:45 p.m.), Race 9 (7:25 p.m.) and Race 10 (8:15 p.m.).
Twenty-seven horses either based at or in close proximity to Churchill Downs were entered in the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships, including defending champs Fort Larned (Classic), Groupie Doll (Filly & Mare Sprint) and Little Mike (Turf).
Reserved seating in Millionaires Row and the Skye Terrace for Churchill Downs’ Breeders’ Cup Viewing Party can be online at ChurchillDowns.com/Tickets, in person at the Gate 1 box office (open Wednesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) or by calling (502) 636-4400. General admission is $3 ($1 for senior citizens). Children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 3, 2014. The track’s Fall Meet will run from Oct. 27-Nov. 30. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.ChurchillDowns.com.