Team Forster's Brushed by a Star outdueled Joyful Victory by a head in Saturday's Grade 2, $168,900 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs. Under a Corey Lanerie drive, the Grant Forster filly ranged up in midstretch and proved just the stronger. Her second graded stakes victory will serve as a nifty catalog update for Monday's Fasig-Tipton November Sale, where she is listed as Hip No. 29.
Brushed by a Star was in career form earlier in the summer, when she capped a three-race winning streak with a wire-to-wire score in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth. But the daughter of Eddington faded to fifth on the class hike in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga, and last time out, she was firmly beaten by Salty Strike when runner-up in the October 6 Mari Hulman George at Hoosier.
As a result, Salty Strike went off as the 9-5 favorite in the Chilukki, and Brushed by a Star was dispatched as the fourth choice at 6-1. Brushed by a Star was settled in fifth as Spectacular Sky reeled off fractions of :23 1/5 and :46 4/5, but was a tad closer by the time Juanita struck the front at the six-furlong mark in 1:11 4/5.
Joyful Victory and Salty Strike were lapped onto Juanita on the far turn, but into the stretch, Joyful Victory kicked away from the favorite. Then Brushed by a Star emerged as a threat on the outside. Although Joyful Victory dug in gamely, Brushed by a Star was relentless and forced her head in front to complete the mile in 1:37 on the fast track. The winner returned $15.40, $6.40 and $3.80.
"I had a good trip, but it wasn't the trip I thought I was going to get," Lanerie said. "I thought I would be sitting second or third behind the 10 (Spectacular Sky) and maybe Joyful Victory, but they outbroke her today, so I just drafted in behind Salty Strike. I swung her to the outside turning for home and she got by them. I thought I was an easy winner and then Joyful Victory fought back to make it a close one.
"I wasn't sure (about whether Brushed by a Star won the photo). I actually thought Joyful Victory might have come back and gotten me. From where I was, it looked like she (Joyful Victory) might have gotten the lucky bob."
Forster wasn't certain about the result from his vantage point either.
"I didn't know," the trainer said. "I thought we had a chance and you just hope you get the bob. Apparently we did, but I would have taken a dead heat.
"When you're at Churchill Downs you want to have Corey Lanerie in the saddle," Forster added.
The top two were 5 1/2 lengths clear of Salty Strike back in third. Next came Juanita, Indulgence, Spectacular Sky, Bonnie's Empire, Make a Toast, Dancinginherdreams and the ever-trailing Brilliant Future. Jemima's Pearl was scratched.
Brushed by a Star was sixth in her stakes debut last November in the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap, but the bay miss seems to have turned over a new leaf this year. She ran second in her four-year-old bow on May 12 at Churchill Downs before taking an allowance under the Twin Spires on June 10. Just 19 days later, Brushed by a Star broke through at the stakes level with a romping 11-length score in the Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows, and she made it three in a row in the July 29 Molly Pitcher.
"She's going to the sale and we're going to sell with a reserve," Forster said. "If we get a fair price, then we'll sell her. If we don't, we're looking forward to racing her next year.
"If we don't sell her, then we'll be back in the Falls City (on Thanksgiving Day, November 22).
Bred by Ryan Desmond and Barry & Ken Donworth, Brushed by a Star improved her scorecard to 19-6-5-2 and boosted her lifetime earnings to $441,991. That's more than paid for her $10,000 purchase price as a Keeneland September yearling in 2009.
The four-year-old lass is out of the winning Broad Brush mare Brush Hour, making her a half-sister to Puerto Rican champion Thethiefatmidnight. Brushed by a Star counts as her third dam the Nijinsky II mare Street Ballet, who won a listed event at Santa Anita and placed in a pair of Grade 1s during her time on track.
That bay mare really made an impact once entering the breeding shed, foaling Swiss champion and Group 3-winning sire Street Rebel, 2003 Grade 1 Japan Cup Dirt conqueror Fleetstreet Dancer and Grade 3-placed multiple stakes-scoring stallion Ponche. Street Ballet is the granddam of Canadian champion sprinter Apelia, who produced fellow Canadian champion Saoirse and Grade 2 heroine More Happy.
Others of note in this female family include Grade 1 hero Royal and Regal and multiple stakes-winning track-record setter Street Dancer, who is a full sister to 1966 Kentucky Oaks queen Native Street, granddam of dual Grade 1 victor River Special and third dam of Peruvian Group 1-winning champion Black Coffey.