Chop Chop noses out Towhead in Aristocrat Juvenile Fillies

Chop Chop (#6) would nose out Towhead to take Kentucky Downs’ $500,000 Aristocrat Gaming Juvenile Fillies Saturday in the rain. Coady Photography

FRANKLIN, Ky. — Chop Chop and Towhead battled through the soggy stretch of Saturday’s $500,000 Aristocrat Gaming Juvenile Fillies, with Chop Chop prevailing by a nose on the second day of the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs.

The remaining four races on the 11-race card were canceled because of inclement weather, with a thunder storm and torrential rain ripping through the area. The $1 million, Grade 3 WinStar Mint Million now will be run next Saturday, Sept. 10 along with the five graded stakes already scheduled for that day. The $500,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile now will be run on Wednesday, Sept. 14, closing day.

Nominations have reopened for those two stakes, closing Sunday, Sept. 4. All horses previously nominated will automatically be nominated. Entries for the Sept. 10 card will be taken on Monday, Labor Day.

Track management said that no decision has been made on Sunday’s scheduled card. Updates will be provided as they become available on Kentucky Downs’ social media outlets.

It was trainer Brad Cox’s third win in Kentucky Downs’ 2-year-old filly stakes, following Turnerloose last year and Jezebel’s Kitten in 2019.

Reylu Gutierrez, winning his first stakes at Kentucky Downs in only his second career mount over the unique course, had Chop Chop tracking the early pace in third while Towhead and C C Cruise Control duked it out on the lead. Coming to the wire, it could have gone either way between Chop Chop and Towhead.

“Ricardo set the tone and Corey was in there, too,” Gutierrez said of Ricardo Santana on Towhead and Corey Lanerie on C C Cruise Control, who finished third. “I just tried to follow them – get a trip. I got a really good trip and I felt turning for home, ‘OK, no excuse.’

“This is my second ride ever at Kentucky Downs, so I did underestimate the wire and I was a little nervous. But when I put the crop away, she really responded to a hand ride. I think the gods were with me. I was sure that I put (Towhead) away, and I was sure that she came back and got me because Ricardo’s horse was so game. She’s trained by Mike Maker, right? His horses, they’re so hard to beat and it took a really good horse today to win.”

Chop Chop covered the mile over yielding turf in 1:43.86 after fractions of 24.11 seconds, 49.99, 1:16.82 and 1:29.78 for seven-eighths of a mile. C C Cruise Control finished third – but nine lengths back. Rounding out the field were Knockyoursocksoff, Mustang Lady, Chiquita Masca, Janis Joplin and favored Callie’s Grit.

Chop Chop paid $10.22 to win as the third choice in the field of eight 2-year-old fillies and picked up $300,700 for the victory. Owned by Jerry Bach’s Selective LLC, she now is 2-for-2, having won another mile turf race on Aug. 14 at Ellis Park.

Kentucky-bred filly is the first stakes-winner for first-crop sire the Lane’s End stallion City of Light, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and the Pegasus World Cup.

“We’ve always liked her a lot,” Cox said by phone. “I wheeled her back in 21 days, or something, but we did breeze her one time there at Ellis on the dirt. She breezed really well. We had a lot of confidence in her today. Reylu (Gutierrez) didn’t have much experience there, but, hey, it worked out. He had a lot of confidence in the filly. He actually breezed her last week as well and thought that she was set up for a big effort and she gave us one.”

Jorje Abrego, who oversees Cox’s Churchill Downs division, was soaked after the race but was thrilled that Chop Chop got a chance to run.

“Absolutely,” he said with a laugh. “What’s a little rain? I’m happy.

“She was not a surprise today. She always breezed good. The plan was to ship her to Ellis to break her maiden and then come here. To win here last year and then to win today, we’re very excited. I was as confident as last year. Absolutely. I think this filly has a lot of talent.”

Maker, the track’s all-time win leader, had to settle for his second three-race afternoon in the first two days of the meet. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione won two races to give him five on the young meet.

Chop Chop noses out Towhead in Aristocrat Juvenile Fillies - The Mint Gaming Hall