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2007 Falls City Handicap winner Kettleoneup in front of the Twin Spires
Photos courtesy of EquiSportPhotos.com
Thanksgiving may be after the Breeders' Cup but it is the biggest weekend of racing before the new year, with graded stakes held every day with possible championship implications. The feature event at Churchill Downs on Thanksgiving Day is the $300,000 Falls City Handicap (G2) for older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Spinster and American Oaks winner Panty Raid was sent off as the even-money favorite in the field of six over 7-5 second choice Tessa Blue, winner of the Inside Information and the Indiana Oaks. 7-1 Chilukki Stakes runner-up High Heels rounded out the top three on the board.
Head on view of the finish with Kettleoneup on the inside and Panty Raid behind.
Winning jockey Calvin Borel said, "They did not go that fast early. They were kind of bunched up, but I could have been anywhere because this filly is doing so good since her last race. I think the older she gets, the better she gets. They were going kind of slow and we were creeping up on them. They kind of picked it up, but I was still sitting on her. I wasnít losing any momentum and then I knew I had them."
Winning trainer Mike Tomlinson said, "Calvin told us that her last two works she had felt better and felt stronger under him than she ever had, so we were pretty confident. We were concerned about the pace and there wasnít much pace, but she was absolutely running away with it. It probably is a testament to how good she is right now. He has said all along that she is improving and learning all the time. He just fits her so well. Him and her just have such great chemistry." Tomlinson said that the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn is a target.
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Kettleoneup Borel 17.60 6.00 3.20 4 High Heels Johnson 6.60 3.40 2 Panty Raid Gomez 2.10 $2 Exacta 1-4 87.80 $2 Trifecta 1-4-2 186.60 $2 Superfecta 1-4-2-6 441.20 Winning Time: 1:50.28Results Chart
Second place finisher High Heels in the post parade. Her jockey Joe Johnson said, "There wasn't any speed to go with the 6-horse (Tessa Blue) and she was up closer to the pace than normal. On the backside I eased her out because it looked like they were all bunched up Ė but when I did I got pushed out, fanned out. One (winner Kettleoneup) had a great trip. I donít know if it would have made a difference if I had stayed down there, because the one won pretty easily. She 'gutted' to be second and the 1-horse had a terrific trip."
Her trainer Gary Hartlage said, "She ran super. Maybe the only thing was she went a little wide on that (far) turn, but they were going so slow and I think Joe would have to have to break her neck to get over (to the rail). Sheís a fun horse. She just keeps on running hard and thatís all you can ask of her. What are you gonna do? She was second best. Thereís nothing wrong with being second best in a $300,000 race."
Third place finisher and beaten favorite Panty Raid. Her jockey Garrett Gomez said, "She was bobbling a lot on me, but where she was placed when we turned for home she should have got the job done. All she had to do was hit another gear and when I pushed the button and told her 'Letís go,' I just didnít have another gear. Itís like she just wanted to kind of stay. I thought we were in a really good position all the way around there, I was just worried about being stuck down there on the fence. But it looked like (jockey Mike Smith aboard pace-setting Tessa Blue) didnít want any part of the fence, so I was down in there and I just bided my time. But when I said go, she didnít go fast enough."
A.P. Arrow wins the 2007 Clark Handicap
The highlight of Thanksgiving weekend at Churchill Downs is the $500,000 Clark Handicap (G2) for older horses going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Ack Ack Handicap winner Istan was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the 9-horse field, with Meadowlands Cup winner Diamond Stripes the 3-1 second choice after finishing well back in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Meadowlands Cup runner-up Magna Graduate was the 5-1 third choice, winless since the Excelsior Breeders' Cup at Aqueduct in April.
72-1 longest shot Plug Me In and 6-1 fourth choice Fairbanks battled on the pace through fractions of 23.97, 47.61, and 1:11.41 with Magna Graduate staying close up in third. Entering the stretch, the pacesetters both tired as 13-1 Brass Hat, who sat in midpack fifth early, came out wide into the stretch and took over the lead with a furlong to go, getting 1 mile in 1:36.11. However, 10-1 A.P. Arrow, fourth early, despite being bumped by Brass Hat at the 1/4 pole, came on late to take over the lead at the 1/16 pole, getting the victory by just 3/4 length in 1:48.66 over the fast track. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Diamond Stripes third, while favorite Istan was left with too much ground to make up, finishing 1 1/2 lengths behind in fourth.
Winning jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "The race unfolded just like Todd (Pletcher) envisioned it. I was able to stay within striking distance and he was comfortable. I was able to split horses to get in front and just make sure that he was going to stay there. He wasnít just opening up on the field but they werenít making up any ground on him either. (Brass Hat) was always trying to charge him, but he was making sure that he was going to stay there. He kind of knew what he was going to do when he made the lead. He made sure he was going to stay there. That is what it felt like."
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "The horse ran very well and the team did a great job here having him ready. I am very pleased. He is a horse that consistently has been running well. Today he got a really good position early and I think that made the difference. He is a horse that has had success on this track in the past year and we werenít surprised that he handled the track. The plan before this race was that he would go down to Florida and point toward the Donn Handicap."
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 A.P. Arrow Dominguez 22.40 10.00 5.20 5 Brass Hat Martinez 13.20 8.40 1 Diamond Stripes Velazquez 3.20 $2 Exacta 4-5 313.40 $2 Trifecta 4-5-1 1,863.20 $2 Superfecta 4-5-1-8 7,675.60 Winning Time: 1:48.66Results Chart
Left: Second place finisher Brass Hat. His jockey Willie Martinez said, "Weíll take our hat off to the winner today. It was a duel in that race from the top of the lane and he gave his best effort. Weíre just happy to have him running still at this level. Itís a lot of fun.Ē
His trainer Buff Bradley said, "He ran his race, he just got outrun. Itís great to see him be so game, though. He tries too hard. This horse likes this track and itís fun just to be in a race of his caliber with a horse like him that does try hard. With a horse thatís overcome his problems and is still running. Weíre lucky. Weíre done for this year. Weíll probably talk about it with my dad (owner Fred Bradley) tonight and probably plan something in the south this winter."
Right: Third place finisher Diamond Stripes. His jockey Cornelio Velasquez said, "He usually breaks good, but this time he
broke a little slow from the gate. In the last 3/16 I had room and he ran a
little bit, but not too much. He couldnīt come on at the end, they were just
too fast for us."
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