05/19/2007 12:00AM

Chelokee comes through in Barbaro


BALTIMORE - Chelokee lived up to his 1-5 favoritism, taking the lead entering the far turn and drawing off to a convincing win the $100,000 Barbaro Stakes at Pimlico on Saturday.

Chelokee is trained by Michael Matz, who was also the trainer of Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner who broke his right hind leg a furlong out of the gate in last year’s Preakness. Barbaro fought bravely for survival, though he succumbed to laminitis and had to be euthanized on Jan. 29. Maryland Jockey Club officials changed the name of this race from the Sir Barton.

Matz and the proprietors of Centennial Farm, owner of Chelokee, were presented the trophy by Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the owners of Barbaro.

The Barbaro scratched down to a five-horse field and Chelokee was in good position from the start under Ramon Dominguez.

Chelokee stalked Stonehouse through fractions of 23.60 seconds and 46.80 before taking over entering the far turn. Dominguez went to his left-handed whip three times from the five-sixteenths pole to the quarter pole, but put the whip away in the stretch and peeked under his arm several times in the final furlong. Chelokee, a son of Cherokee Run, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.44 and returned $2.60 as the favorite.

Silver Express finished second, followed by Zephyr Cat, Stonehouse and Dancin Buddha.