11/04/2010 11:48AM

First Passage looks strong in backup spot

Jim Lisa
First Passage was unlikely to get a spot in the Filly and Mare Sprint, but she is among the Chilukki favorites.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Marty Wolfson believed First Passage rated a decent chance to pull a huge upset in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Friday at Churchill Downs, but with the filly highly likely to be excluded as an also-eligible, Wolfson has refocused his sights on the Grade 2 Chilukki Stakes on Saturday at Churchill.

“It’s very disappointing, because I really wanted to run her,” said Wolfson, the south Florida-based trainer who still had Jessica Is Back in the main body of the Filly and Mare Sprint. First Passage, he said, “has trained really well in the last few weeks, so we’re not going to waste that, and we’ll give the other race a try.”

What logically follows is that if First Passage really was good enough to contend in a Breeders’ Cup race, she should loom even larger in a race such as the $150,000 Chilukki – although the one-mile race looks extremely competitive, with several of her 11 opponents also deserving of equal billing.

The lukewarm morning-line favorite in the Chilukki is Always a Princess, a speedy 3-year-old whose trainer, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, guided Chilukki to a divisional Eclipse Award as a 2-year-old of 1999. Always a Princess passed a couple of key tests in her last race, the Oct. 2 Indiana Oaks at Hoosier Park, by winning around two turns and in her first try on dirt after starting her career with four races on synthetics.

Among the other main players in the Chilukki, which is run around one turn out of the Longfield Avenue chute, are Bronx City Girl, another Wolfson filly shipping in from Calder; Emmy Darling, from the powerhouse Southern California stable of Doug O’Neill; and two fillies, Third Dawn and Alpha Kitten, being sent over by another top California trainer, John Sadler.

The Chilukki is carded as race 3 (post time, 1:15 p.m. Eastern) on the 11-race Saturday card and is the last of the three preliminary features that precede the eight Breeders’ Cup events.

Scratches for all 14 BC events were due Friday at 7 a.m. Eastern, at which time it would be known whether any also-eligibles would make their respective races.

◗ Baffert also figures as a major figure in the $85,000 Dream Supreme (race 2, 12:35 p.m.), a six-furlong race that drew 11 fillies and mares. Baffert will saddle Rapport, who was eliminated from consideration for the Filly and Mare Sprint when she faded to finish sixth as the favorite in her last start, the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom at Belmont Park. In her previous start, however, Rapport looked sensational in taking the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Saratoga in gate-to-wire fashion, and she would take plenty of beating with something similar Saturday.

Rapport, with Martin Garcia to ride, will break from post 1 as the 5-2 program favorite. One of her main challengers, Nicole H, is drawn alongside in post 2 and will be trying to duplicate back-to-back races in which she earned 99 Beyer Speed Figures.

◗ The Saturday card begins at 12:05 p.m., with the only nonstakes race of the day, a $50,000, first-level allowance sprint that will have Devils Humor, Its About Midnight, and Dancing Darcey as the favorites in a field of eight fillies and mares.