11/02/2012 11:27AM

Churchill Downs: Chilukki no cakewalk for Joyful Victory


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Joyful Victory performed well in defeat in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 29, finishing second behind loose-on-the-lead Love and Pride. Yet it wasn’t enough to convince her connections to test her in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. Trainer Larry Jones and Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms settled on Saturday’s Grade  2, $150,000 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs instead.

The race is no “gimme” consolation prize – among her 10 rivals are four other graded winners: Dancinginherdreams, Juanita, Brushed by a Star, and Salty Strike. Fans may also recall that in May 2011, Joyful Victory went off favored in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill and finished fourth behind Plum Pretty.

Since scoring back-to-back victories in the Honeybee and Fantasy early in her 3-year-old year, Joyful Victory has only one win, in the $75,000 Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds this February.

A 4-year-old gray daughter of Pulpit, she will be reunited in the one-mile Chilukki with jockey Robby Albarado, who was aboard in the Tiffany Lass.

Brushed by a Star, upset winner of the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher this summer, is one of several front-running fillies entered, which should ensure a lively pace. She is being cut back in distance and moving to one turn after racing in five consecutive two-turn routes.

“My best guess is that she’s a little better at two turns, and so the distance concerns me a little,” trainer Grant Forster said.

The distance is a non-issue for Salty Strike. A winner of five of seven starts at Churchill Downs over a variety of distances, she enters the race off a win in the Mari Hulman George Stakes at Hoosier Park on the Indiana Derby undercard Oct. 6. She also beat Joyful Victory in the one-mile Gardenia at Ellis Park this summer.

* Saturday’s 10-race card also includes the $65,000 Bet On Sunshine, which drew Delaunay as its headliner. A stakes winner over this track in June, Delaunay upset Breeders’ Cup Sprint entrant Gantry in the Temperence Hill Stakes at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 8.

* Fans at Churchill are advised that once live racing concludes Friday and Saturday, wagering on the Breeders’ Cup will be limited to three track areas: the second-floor simulcast area, the Turf Club, and Horsemen’s Lounge.