11/02/2017 1:16PM

Money'soncharlotte tops full field in Chilukki Stakes

JJ Zamaiko Photography
Money’soncharlotte was established as the 4-1 morning-line favorite in Saturday's Grade 2 Chilukki Stakes.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Although horseplayers will understandably be focused on betting the Breeders’ Cup from Del Mar on Saturday, they might want to glance in another track’s direction, if only for a little while, lest they miss a deep, closely matched renewal of the Grade 2, $200,000 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs.

A one-turn mile dirt race, it drew a mix of routers and sprinters for a capacity field of 14, plus a couple of also-eligibles. Entries came from all over the country, including Money’soncharlotte, a distant second to Elate in the Grade 1 Beldame at Belmont Park, and a trio of runners from California in Motown Lady, Show Stealer, and Shenandoah Queen.

Illustrating the depth of the lineup, Money’soncharlotte was established as the morning-line favorite at 4-1, with Shenandoah Queen and stretch-out sprinter Kathballu both pegged at 5-1.

Money’soncharlotte brings a quality 2017 résumé into the race, having won four consecutive races, three of them stakes, before her runner-up finish in the Beldame. Although she was no match for Elate that afternoon, she did gamely hold second over Eskenformoney and Verve’s Tale, mares that would return to run one-two in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm at Belmont on Oct. 28.

Leading Churchill rider Corey Lanerie, 7 for 14 over the first two days of the meet, rides Money’soncharlotte, a 5-year-old mare by Mizzen Mast who is owned by George Hall and trained by Kelly Breen.

Shenandoah Queen enters the Chilukki with the sharpest form of the California raiders, having upset Faithfully at 20-1 odds in taking the restricted Tranquility Lake Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 26.

Though unraced for over two months, she typically performs at a high level when fresh, having won three of five starts when returning from layoffs. She is also 3 for 3 at a mile.

Not as well suited to the distance is Kathballu, who in her two races at a mile finished sixth in the 2016 Groupie Doll and fourth in this race last year. She does enter the Chilukki in sharp form, having won an allowance at Keeneland last month, and is a three-time winner from 11 starts on the Churchill main track.

By comparison, Shenandoah Queen has never raced at Churchill and Money’soncharlotte finished 13th at 64-1 odds in the 2015 Kentucky Oaks, her only start here.

◗ Churchill Downs has pushed back its first-race post time to 2:15 p.m. Eastern on Saturday in an effort to position its races to avoid conflicts with the Breeders’ Cup from Del Mar. The Chilukki will be run under the lights at 7:25 p.m. between simulcasts of the Juvenile and the Turf.