Juddmonte’s 3-year-old homebred filly Obligatory raced into a comfortable position early on and closed into a swift pace down the stretch to run down Matera and Miss Bigly in Saturday’s 36th running of the $300,000 Chilukki (Grade III) at Churchill Downs with a 2 ¼-length triumph at odds of 3-2.
Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Joel Rosario for his fourth win of the day, Obligatory clocked one mile over a fast track in 1:34.80 to beat seven older fillies and mares. It was the 3-year-old filly’s second stakes win of her career and first against elders. On the Kentucky Oaks (GI) undercard in late April, Obligatory scored a 16-1 upset in the $300,000 Eight Belles presented by Smithfield (GII).
Obligatory banked the $181,900 first prize in the Chilukki and rewarded her backers with $5, $3.20 and $2.20.
Princess Causeway led the field in the one-turn mile through swift fractions of :22.77 and :45.98 with Matera, Miss Bigly and She Can’t Sing in close pursuit as Obligatory tracked well back in the clear in fifth down the backstretch. Around the turn, Miss Bigly took the lead from a fading Princess Causeway and crossed the six-furlong pole in 1:10.36. She opened up a lead at the top of the stretch but Matera and Obligatory were closing the gap. Widest of all, Obligatory hit her best stride with three-sixteenths of a mile to run and inhaled her two rivals inside the final furlong for the comfortable win.
“She gave me a really good effort today closing into the pace,” Rosario said. “It was fun to be on her. Around the turn she started showing her best turn of foot and I could see the pace was pretty fast in front of me.”
Matera, ridden by Florent Geroux, finished second at odds of 7-2 and paid $4 and $2.60. California invader Miss Bigly was another neck back in third at 9-2 under Martin Garcia and returned $2.40.
Pass the Plate, Sally’s Curlin, She Can’t Sing and Princess Causeway completed the order of finish. Its Cold in Dehere was scratched in favor of another race on Wednesday at Churchill Downs.
Overall, Obligatory has won three of nine starts and $711,514. Prior to the Chilukki, she finished sixth of 11 in the $250,000 Raven Run (GII) at Keeneland on Oct. 23.
“We were a little bit worried about the pace going into the race but we know she could be pretty versatile where she was in the race,” said Garrett O’Rourke, general manager of Juddmonte. “The pace ended up helping us today and she got a really good run on the outside. Joel got her into a lovely rhythm and always felt like he was in a good position with her. She’s going to stay in training next year and the goal would be to get a Grade I victory with her.”
Obligatory is a gray or roan daughter of Curlin out of the Macho Uno mare Uno Duo and was bred in Kentucky by her owners.
Known as the Churchill Downs Distaff from 1996-2004, the Chilukki was renamed in 2005 to honor Stonerside Stable’s graded stakes-winning filly. The daughter of Cherokee Run made four starts at Churchill Downs, all of which were victories. Chilukki won the 2000 edition of this race in what would be her final start with a final time of 1:33.57 – a track record at the time.
Racing at Churchill Downs resumes Sunday with a nine-race program that begins at 1 p.m. ET. The carryover in the Single 6 Jackpot, which covers Races 4-9, is up to $109,257. There also is a carryover of the $6,463 in the finale’s $1 Super Hi 5.
Joel Rosario, jockey of OBLIGATORY (winner): “She gave me a really good effort today closing into the pace. It was fun to be on her. Around the turn she started showing her best turn of foot and I could see the pace was pretty fast in front of me.”
Garrett O’Rourke, general manager of Juddmonte’s OBLIGATORY (winner): “We were a little bit worried about the pace going into the race but we know she could be pretty versatile where she was in the race. The pace ended up helping us today and she got a really good run on the outside. Joel got her into a lovely rhythm and always felt like he was in a good position with her. She’s going to stay in training next year and the goal would be to get a Grade I victory with her.”
Florent Geroux, jockey of MATERA (runner-up): “I tipped her outside going into the turn to get around the leaders. She ran a good effort and ended up being second best.”