Competitive Chilukki draws eight

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Jen Caldwell

November 4th, 2015

Saturday’s $200,000 Chilukki S. (G2) at Churchill Downs had drawn a field of eight distaffers to go a mile under the Twin Spires, and the race features Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2) winner Keen Pauline.

That Dale Romans pupil brought just a maiden win into her stakes debut in the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico, and exited the mid-May contest a wire-to-wire victress. Unfortunately, Keen Pauline returned from a break to be unplaced in her last two.

The chestnut miss was bumped at the break of the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and wound up sixth on the wire, then was never a factor when ninth in the Cotillion S. (G1) last out on September 19.

Keen Pauline will be back on familiar ground Saturday, as the Kentucky-bred sophomore made her initial two starts at Churchill to break her maiden and finish second in an allowance/optional claimer. Miguel Mena has the call for the first time.

Also entered in the Chilukki are Ahh Chocolate and Spelling Again.

The former ran against Keen Pauline in the Black-Eyed Susan, finishing third while also making her stakes bow in that nine-furlong affair. The Neil Howard pupil was then fourth in the Indiana Oaks (G2) and faded to 10th in the Pucker Up S. (G3) while making her turf debut at Arlington.

Ahh Chocolate was given a confidence building win against allowance/optional claimers at Churchill in mid-September and enters the Chilukki off an eighth-placing sprinting in the Raven Run S. (G2) at Keeneland.

“It’s that time of year when there’s no other races for strictly three-year-old fillies, so this is one of the only options,” Howard shrugged. “She’s doing real good and seems to be training well.”

Regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. will be aboard as Ahh Chocolate seeks her first stakes score.

Spelling Again almost ran last weekend in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) following her close, troubled fourth in the Thoroughbred Club of America S. (G2) at Keeneland on October 3.

“She had a little bit of an unfortunate trip in the beginning of that race (TCA) and got bounced around a little bit,” trainer Brad Cox explained. “She had lost a little ground but still ran great and galloped out in front for what that’s worth. It was a good showing, we were beaten two lengths in a Grade 1.

“She was beaten only a neck behind (champion) Judy the Beauty and plus we had a wide trip so I think we could’ve definitely had a better trip but that’s horse racing. Had she won or ran second we would have tried for the Breeders’ Cup.

“We were actually thinking about trying the Breeders’ Cup anyway but just kind of thought that it would have been a good field and she probably would not have got in. We’re obviously high on her and she’s been doing great.”

Spelling Again brought a stakes win into the TCA, taking her black-type bow in the Open Mind S. at Churchill on September 12, and Cox is already looking at bigger and better things down the road.

“I guess the real goal is to get her graded stakes-placed,” he said. “But actually we talked about treating (next spring’s) Humana Distaff (G1) as our Breeders’ Cup. We’re taking it one step at a time. That would be a goal for next spring because seven-eighths would fit her real well here. She’s really training well and she’s on her game. If she shows up like we think she will, she’ll be tough.”

Shaun Bridgmohan has the mount.

Also entered in the Chilukki are Birdonthewire, who is returning off a fifth-placing in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) after taking a pair of Grade 2s at Gulfstream Park over the winter and spring; Grade 3-placed multiple stakes winner Shanon Nicole, unraced since a close third while making her seasonal debut on January 24 in the Houston Ladies Classic S.; and Gold Medal Dancer, heroine of the Azeri S. (G2) and third in both the Apple Blossom H. (G1) and La Troienne S. (G1) earlier in the year.

Keen Pauline photo courtesy of Maryland Jockey Club/Jim McCue