The focus falls on Churchill Downs on Saturday, when the feature G3 2022 Chilukki Stakes brings together a closely-matched group of fillies and mares headed by the speedy Centre Aisle and Coach, already a stakes winner at this track.
G3, $300,000, 1m dirt, 3yo+ females, 5.35pm ET
The Churchill Downs fall meet lends a dash of class to the post-Breeders’ Cup landscape and Saturday’s action is headlined by the Chilukki, which provides an opportunity for a promising bunch of distaffers to add some lustre to their resumés.
The only Graded-stakes winner among the septet is Center Aisle, who nailed the six-furlong G3 Sugar Swirl at Gulfstream Park in December. Since then she’s run in two races she couldn’t win – the G1 Madison and G1 Derby City Distaff – and one race she could and did win, an allowance optional claimer at Keeneland over six furlongs last month, her first start off a five-month layoff.
Center Aisle is a likely pace angle but has never gone a mile, so it remains to be seen whether she can carry her speed across the extra yardage.
Stamina is not an issue for Coach, who won a stakes here over a mile-sixteenth back in 2020 and a similar contest over a mile at Oaklawn Park in January, when sitting on or near the pace throughout. She was making her first start for eight months when runner-up in a Laurel Park stakes last month and will be sharper for that.
Also returning from a spell on the bench last time was Mariah’s Princess, who was having her first start of 2022 when runner-up in an AOC at Keeneland over a mile-sixteenth three weeks ago, looking a little rusty when run down in the closing stages. That should move her up and she won a mile-sixteenth stakes at Oaklawn on her previous start.
Twelve months ago She Can’t Sing was second-favourite to win the Chilukki but threw in a clunker, finishing sixth. She’s won three stakes on turf since then and ran possibly a career-best when third in the G3 Mint Ladies Sprint at Kentucky Downs in September, going six and a half furlongs on the lawn. The surface switch could be a problem.
Liberty M D has struck out on both attempts at Graded level, but has never been out of the first two in five starts here and has won over course and distance. Her record under the twin spires demands respect, although she needs to improve.
The G2 Zenyatta at Santa Anita over a mile-sixteenth last month was a weak contest but Empire House ran a fair race to take third. This looks like class relief but it probably isn’t and she has never won at a top-tier track, while Ice Orchid was a distant runner-up to Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath in the G3 Honeybee at Oaklawn in February, and could be in the mix after winning a Keeneland allowance over a mile-eighth last month.
|ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS
|Ricardo Santana, Jr.
|She Can’t Sing
|Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.
|Liberty M D
|Julien R. Leparoux
2022 Chilukki Stakes Betting Prediction
Center Aisle may have stamina issues and COACH, who will move up from her first start off a long layoff, can take advantage to land a first Graded win.
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