11/02/2008 12:00AM

Copper State can enhance sales appeal


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Copper State has run three races, finishing second every time, since being sold privately to Millennium Farms. The fourth - and most likely her last - race for Millennium and trainer Steve Asmussen will come Sunday in the Grade 2, $150,000 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs.

Copper State, an Illinois-bred 4-year-old filly, is scheduled to be sold Tuesday as Hip No. 597 at the Keeneland November sales.

"She's run very good races for us without winning," said Asmussen. "Obviously we'd love to go out with a win."

That seems quite possible, considering there is no Unbridled Belle, no Ginger Punch, and no Tough Tiz's Sis to oppose her in the one-mile Chilukki. Those are the top-class fillies who defeated her in the Grade 3 Obeah, Grade 1 Go for Wand, and Grade 1 Ruffian, respectively.

Copper State was double-digit odds in all three of those runner-up finishes, but she won't be such a lucrative price Sunday. With Shaun Bridgmohan riding from post 3, Copper State figures as one of the favorites, along with Baroness Thatcher and Leah's Secret, in a field of 11 fillies and mares.

Baroness Thatcher won when she stretched out around two turns in her last start, an Oct. 11 allowance over the Keeneland Polytrack. A 4-year-old filly trained by Bill Mott, Baroness Thatcher has narrowly missed in two Grade 1 races in her 21-race career, the Ballerina at 3 and the Humana Distaff earlier this year.

Leah's Secret, the leading earner in the field with $675,439, is a multiple graded winner whose two starts, both in Grade 1 company, following her victory in the Grade 3 Chicago Breeders' Cup are somewhat difficult to gauge. She was fourth in the Aug. 24 Ballerina at Saratoga, then last of four in the Sept. 27 Beldame in the Belmont Park slop.

As for longer-priced possibilities from the rest of the Chilukki field, Super Freaky, like Leah's Secret, finished last of four in a Grade 1 race on Sept. 27, the Lady's Secret at Santa Anita. Doug O'Neill has shipped the 4-year-old Smart Strike filly east from his Hollywood Park base.

After a 10-race Sunday card, Churchill goes dark for two days. In previous years, racing has been conducted on Election Day, but the track has opted instead for Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, as its lone Tuesday program of the fall meet.