11/07/2009 12:00AM

Malibu Prayer defeats elders in Chilukki


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - In a reflection of the strength of the 3-year-old filly division, Malibu Prayer won Saturday's at Churchill Downs by a length in her first start versus older stakes females.

After running second behind the likes of Rachel Alexandra, Careless Jewel, and Just Jenda over the summer, Malibu Prayer took advantage of the opportunity to avoid those talented 3-year-old fillies - though she faced some quality older opponents in One Caroline, Swift Temper, and others in the Chilukki.

Malibu Prayer was aided by a smart ride from jockey Chris DeCarlo, who allowed her to settle farther off the pace than usual, in third, 1 1/2 lengths off the pace. One Caroline set demanding fractions of 22.47 seconds and 44.87 in the one-mile dirt race. Malibu Prayer quickly advanced on the leader on the turn and took command upon entering the lane. From there she seemed to wait on horses - maintaining a clear edge but not drawing away from favored One Caroline, who fought bravely through the stretch before being edged for the place on the wire by the late-running Copper State.

DeCarlo said one of the keys to victory was getting first run leaving the turn. "She's got a good, steady kick," he said.

Malibu Prayer, a 3-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon trained by Todd Pletcher and owned and bred by Edward Evans, raced a mile in 1:36.24. She paid $12.20.

Swift Temper, winner of the Grade 1 Ruffian, raced in traffic and was a non-factor in finishing sixth as the second choice in the nine-horse field.

There was no fairy-tale ending for trainer Larry Jones, who officially retired with Payton D'Oro's fifth-place finish in the Chilukki. Training duties for his stable will now be handled by his wife, Cindy.

* A race earlier on the card, She's Our Annie pushed her record to 4 for 5 with a 2 1/2-length score in the $52,800 Dream Supreme Stakes. Despite not having raced since March, she made short work of the field, taking command with her blazing speed and maintaining a clear advantage in the stretch.

She raced six furlongs under Jon Court in 1:10.31, paying $5.20. Court's father-in-law, Jinks Fires, trained She's Our Annie for Janet Grube's Destiny Oaks Farm.