11/07/2015 5:59PM

Spelling Again benefits from great ride to win Chilukki


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – On paper, Spelling Again looked like the lone speed Saturday in the $200,000 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs, but when the gates opened for the one-mile race, the 4-year-old filly was quickly cleared by Keen Pauline.

That’s when jockey Shaun Bridgmohan put his considerable skills to work. After getting Spelling Again into a smooth rhythm tracking Keen Pauline on the long run down the backstretch, horse and rider proceeded to an emphatic 4 1/2-length victory in the 30th running of the Grade 2 race.

Claimed at Santa Anita in late May for $40,000 and turned over to Brad Cox by Seajay Racing, Spelling Again won her second stakes in five starts since. She had finished a troubled fourth in her last race, the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland.

“She settled real nice for me,” said Bridgmohan. “Once we straightened away and switched leads, she was gone.”

Spelling Again returned $8.60 after finishing in 1:35.75 over a fast main track. Ahh Chocolate was up in the final yards to get second, a head before Gold Medal Dancer. Serene Melody was fourth, while Birdatthewire, the 7-5 favorite in a field of seven fillies and mares and making her first start in more than six months, was fifth. Ambusher was sixth, and Keen Pauline finished last after tiring on splits of 23.47 seconds and 46.42. Shanon Nicole was an early scratch.

Cox, enjoying his best season in 11 years as a trainer, said he hadn’t thought of a next start for Spelling Again, a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Awesome Again. The filly won the six-furlong Open Mind here in September, so “anywhere from six furlongs to a flat mile seems to suit her,” he said.

The $2 exacta (4-2) paid $53, the $1 trifecta (4-2-6) returned $90.90, and the 10-cent superfecta (4-2-6-3) was worth $47.09.

The Chilukki, formerly known as the Churchill Downs Distaff, is named for the Bob Baffert-trained standout who won 11 of 17 starts, including the 2000 Churchill Downs Distaff.