Edward Evans’ Malibu Prayer collared favored One Caroline on the far turn and then held off a late charge by Copper State by a length to win the 24th running of the $167,550 Chilukki (Grade II) for fillies and mares at Churchill Downs.
Ridden by Chris DeCarlo, Malibu Prayer gave trainer Todd Pletcher his second consecutive victory in the Chilukki having scored in 2008 with Leah’s Secret. Malibu Prayer covered the mile on a “fast” main track in 1:36.24.
One Caroline, who was coming off a six-month layoff because of an injury, shot to the lead under Leandro Goncalves and took the field through fractions of :22.47 and :44.87 while maintaining a clear advantage.
DeCarlo moved Malibu Prayer after One Caroline leaving the backstretch and took command entering the stretch only to have One Caroline battle back. Malibu Prayer finally began to draw clear in the final sixteenth of a mile as Copper State closed fast to swipe second place by a neck over One Caroline.
The victory was worth $99,626 and increased Malibu Prayer’s earnings to $348,526 with her fourth victory in nine starts.
Malibu Prayer, a 3-year-old Virginia-bred daughter of Malibu Moon who carried 115 pounds, nine fewer than top weight Swift Temper who finished sixth, returned $12.20, $6.20 and $3.80. Copper State, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, paid $15 and $6.60 with One Caroline paying $2.60 to show.
Payton d’Oro, who finished fifth in the field of nine, represented the final starter for trainer Larry Jones, who is turning the training of his 23-horse stable over to his wife Cindy.
Jones, a 53-year-old native of Hopkinsville, Ky., who began training in 1982, is best known as the conditioner of 2008 Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles. Jones, who saddled Proud Spell to win the 2008 Kentucky Oaks, also had the 2007 Kentucky Derby runner-up in Hard Spun.
"At least I ended the career better than I started,” Jones said. “The pressure’s off. I bet my blood pressure’s already come down now. But, no, it’s good. Trust me, it’s got some sentimental feelings about it, but I’m OK. It’s all good. . . . I don’t know what the future really holds, but it’ll all be good. You know, we’re ready for the next journey, whatever it may be.”
Cindy Jones will oversee the barn operations through the end of the Churchill Downs meet on Nov. 28 and then the couple will head home to Henderson, Ky., for the holidays before rejoining the barn for the 2010 meet at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
In the race before the Chilukki, Destiny Oaks’ She’s Our Annie made a successful return to the races after a 7 ½-month layoff to post a 2 ½-length victory over Adhrhythm in the $61,300 Dream Supreme, a six-furlong overnight stake for fillies and mares.
Ridden by Jon Court for trainer Jinks Fires, She’s Our Annie returned mutuels of $5.20, $4.20 and $3.20 as the favorite in the field of nine. Adhrhythm, ridden by Chris Emigh, returned $17.60 and $10.20 with Step Out Smartly paying $5.20 to show under Francisco Torres.
Racing continues Sunday with a 10-race card beginning at 12:40 p.m.