Chilukki, who won an Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly of 1999 for Robert and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable, has been retired and will be bred to leading sire Storm Cat. Trainer Bob Baffert said the decision to retire the daughter of Cherokee Run was made by the McNairs after some filling was detected in an ankle just before Baffert left for Dubai, where he captured the March 24 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) with Mike Pegram's Captain Steve.
"It was their decision," Baffert said of the McNairs. "She's been such a classy filly to train and so good to us all that there was no reason to take any chances with her. She didn't owe us anything."
Chilukki first made headlines when the McNairs paid $875,000 for her at the Fasig-Tipton Calder select sale of 2-year-olds in training, the highest price for a filly and the fourth highest price overall at that sale. Bred in Kentucky by Dr. and Mrs. R. Smiser West and Mr. and Mrs. Mackenzie Miller, Chilukki was from the first crop of 1994 champion sprinter Cherokee Run and out of the Damascus mare Song of Syria. She debuted in April, setting a track record of :51.00 for 4 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs while winning a maiden race, then won five consecutive graded stakes, the last two in grade I events, the Del Mar Debutante and Oak Leaf Stakes. Though she was upset by Cash Run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park, Chilukki was voted the Eclipse Award.
The Stonerside star slipped from the top of the 3-year-old filly division when she lost three of her first four starts of 2000, but then she put together a three-race winning streak in late summer and fall. She set another track record at Churchill Downs, this time going a mile in the Churchill Downs Distaff Handicap (gr. II) on the Breeders' Cup undercard Nov. 4. Chilukki battled gamely down the stretch to defeat Reciclada by a head, covering the distance in 1:33.57.
Chilukki ended her career with three head-to-head battles with Spain, the 55-1 longshot winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). She lost the first match, finishing fourth to Spain in the Dec. 30 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) going seven furlongs, then defeated that rival by 2 1/2 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile El Encino Stakes (gr. II) on Jan. 21. Spain won their rubber match in the La Canada Stakes (gr. I) on Feb. 11, defeating runner-up Chilukki by two lengths over nine furlongs.
Chilukki retires with 11 victories (including nine stakes) and three seconds from 17 starts for earnings of $1,201,828.
"She was the quickest filly I ever trained," said Baffert. "When I look down millionaire's row in my shedrow, where all the best horses are, I'm really going to miss her."