08/12/2008 11:00PM

Chilliness surprises in Cradle prep

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With only three weeks left in the River Downs meet, attention is now being focused on the highlight of the meet on Sept. 1, the $200,000 Miller Lite Cradle Stakes, the longest continuously sponsored race in North America.

Last Saturday was the Cradle Prep, a $25,000 turf allowance for 2-year-olds going a mile, a sixteenth of a mile shorter than the Cradle. Longshot Chilliness lit up the tote board, returning $111.40.

Jockey Azael Deleon kept Chilliness along the hedge the entire race and got through in the stretch to draw off and win by 1 3/4 lengths. Chilliness is now 2 for 2 after being placed first following the disqualification of the winner in his June 7 debut at Churchill Downs. Appalachian Trail was second in the prep, 6 1/4 lengths in front of the favorite, Night Action. All three are now eligible to supplement to the Cradle for the discounted price of $3,000.

Sunday was the Bassinet prep at six furlongs, the same distance as the $100,000 Bassinet on Aug. 30. Yo Eleven held off a hard-charging Afternoon Stroll to win by a half-length. Under Julio Felix, Yo Eleven was just off the early pace before rallying into the stretch and taking the lead. She was fully extended to hold off the favorite, Afternoon Stroll. Cherubini was three-quarters of a length back in third. The first three finishers are eligible to supplement to the Bassinet for a reduced price of $3,000.

* It isn't often that you see an ambulance on fire anywhere, much less on the track while a race is being run, but that is exactly what happened Tuesday during the fifth race. Luckily the race was being run on the turf course and the ambulance was on the backstretch of the main track.

Evidently an electrical short in the dashboard caused the blaze, which totally engulfed the cab of the ambulance as the horses were crossing the finish line. The water truck was summoned and extinguished the fire, but not before the ambulance was a total loss.

"It was the backup ambulance that was destroyed," said Jack Hanessian, general manager of River Downs. "The main ambulance broke a belt Sunday and the parts store had sent us the wrong belt, three different times."

After two races with a makeshift ambulance, the main ambulance was back on the track.