(Chili Flag / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

From the Churchill Downs Media Team / Darren Rogers & Kevin Kerstein:


Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb and Michael Kisber’s Chili Flag(FR) outdueled stablemate Coppice (GB) by a neck to win the 39th running of the $665,000 Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (GII) for fillies and mares Saturday afternoon.

Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Chili Flag completed the mile on a turf course rated as good in 1:35.95. It is Brown’s fourth consecutive victory in this race and fifth overall. For Ortiz, it is his third victory in the race and was his third stakes victory of the afternoon.

Ag Bullet set an unopposed pace of :23.40 and :47.20 as Chili Flag raced next to last down the backstretch just behind Coppice. On the far turn, Ag Bullet yielded and Walkathon took over.

At the head of the lane as the field spread across the track, Coppice took the inside route while Chili Flag was widest of all. Chili Flag hit the front at the sixteenth pole and prevailed in the run to the finish line with a third Brown runner, Delahaye, finishing third.

Chili Flag returned $10.06, $4.52 and $2.96. Coppice, ridden by Frankie Dettori, returned $4.18 and $3.02 and finished 1 ¾ lengths in front of Delahaye, who paid $4.04 to show under Tyler Gaffalione.

It was another 2 ¾ lengths back to Mission of Joy with Walkathon, Ascendancy, Cairo Consort, Evvie Jets, Ag Bullet and Not So Close following in order.


Irad Ortiz Jr. (jockey, Chili Flag-FR, winner) – “She’s great, she knows what she has to do. I took her inside and let her sit, let her feel comfortable and find her stride. I was able to roll with her when I had to. Every time that I’ve ridden her, she’s given me that confidence to come running late.”

Chad Brown (trainer, Chili Flag-FR, Coppice-GB and Delahaye, first, second and third) – “(Chili Flag) is a rapidly improving horse, I was so impressed with her last start in the Honey Fox. I thought this race made a lot of sense and she showed that late kick again. She’s a real player in the division. Sometimes these horses, you give them enough time and they start to improve. She’s just had a great winter of development and rest and since the Honey Fox she’s really moved forward.”

          On Coppice: “I didn’t mind her going inside in the final turn. I didn’t want to be too wide. I’m still getting to know her but I love this filly. I knew she had an electric turn of foot. Running inside of horses that entire stretch against a really formidable foe, that’s not easy. Her having to run down to the wire and having to look at a horse to her right, I think she was at a little disadvantage there.”

Frankie Dettori (jockey, Coppice-GB, second) – “The pace was honest. I saved ground down on the inside. I waited as long as I could to kick but she ran a good race.”

Tyler Gaffalione (jockey, Delahaye, third) – “I got squeezed out of the gate. She’s still learning and this experience is going to be great for her down the road. I thought it was a tremendous effort against a very good field.”