December 8, 2023

Obligatory storms home to beat older Chilukki rivals

Obligatory wins the Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

Receiving the strong pace setup that she needed to show her best, Obligatory stormed home a comfortable winner of the $300,000 Chilukki S. (G3) at Churchill Downs on Saturday while snapping a four-race losing skid.

The only three-year-old in the one-mile test for fillies and mares, Obligatory raced wide down the backside and bided her time under Joel Rosario while Princess Causeway sped out to an early lead. The fractions over a fast racing strip were :22.77 and :45.98.

Princess Causeway was passed by Miss Bigly approaching the quarter pole, with Matera her closest pursuer and Obligatory kicking into gear from farther back. In the stretch, Obligatory finished full of run down the center of the track and bested her older rivals by 2 1/4 lengths. Her final time was a strong 1:34.80.

A homebred who races for Juddmonte Farms, the Bill Mott-trained Obligatory paid $5 as the 3-2 favorite. Matera edged Princess Causeway for second by a beck. Farther up the track were Pass the Plate, 2019 Chilukki winner Sally’s Curlin, She Can’t Sing, and Princess Causeway.

This was the second stakes win of the year for Obligatory, who’s proved most effective around one turn. She turned heads with a last-to-first, one-length score in the Eight Belles (G2) over seven furlongs on Kentucky Oaks Day, and later finished a half-length second to Oaks runner-up Search Results in the Acorn (G1).

Obligatory’s recent form had not been great, though. Although a good second in the 1 1/16-mile Cotillion (G1) two back, she had failed to to contend in either the Test (G1) or Raven Run (G2), both over seven furlongs. Her record now stands at 9-3-2-0, $711,514.

“She’s a filly that’s run tremendously in Grade 1 races, and the biggest goal will be to get a Grade 1 win into her next year,” said Juddmonte’s Garrett O’Rourke. “What route we’ll follow will be up to Bill. There’s no rush. It’s a nice way to put the year to an end.”

A gray by Curlin, Obligatory was reared by the stakes-winning Uno Dup, a Macho Uno half-sister to Grade 2 winner Etoile Montante. The latter produced Grade 2 scorer Starformer.

This female family is also responsible for Grade 2 performer Bonny South, one of the favorites for the Falls City (G2) at Churchill on the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.