Race Preview: Falls City Handicap - Churchill Downs, November 28, 2013

Matt Carter

November 28th, 2013

Special holiday racing on Thanksgiving at Churchill Downs this Thursday with the feature race, the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap for fillies and mares. The nine furlong race drew a field of nine with Fiftyshadesofhay the 5-2 morning line favorite.

The Bob Baffert-trained Fiftyshadesofhay has run 12 times in her career and has crossed the wire first four times. Two of those wins were in graded stakes, the Grade 2 Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico and the Grade 3 Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows. The start on Thursday marks the first time the three-year-old has tackled older fillies and mares. Mike Smith will be riding the filly for the first time.

Co-second choices on the morning line are Flashy American and Don't Tell Sophia, two horses that have similar off-the-pace running styles. Flashy American is coming out of a fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Zenyatta at Santa Anita in September, beaten just six lengths by champion Beholder. Back to her favorite track, Flashy American is a big threat to the favorite.

Don't Tell Sophia is coming out of an upset win over Wine Princess, also in the Falls City, in the Grade 2 Chilukki Stakes three weeks ago over the Churchill oval. That race was a one-turn mile, but Don't Tell Sophia is two-for-two over the track and based on her races last winter at Oaklawn Park, she does have some tactical speed.

Wine Princess was the 5-2 post-time favorite for the Chilukki, but could not hold off the late run of Don't Tell Sophia. Note that it was another four lengths back to the third place finisher so it could be said Wine Princess ran a "winning" race. Wine Princess has six starts at Churchill with three wins and two seconds. Expect jockey Shaun Bridgmohan to be stalking Fiftyshadesofhay early. Those two are most likely to sit second and third, off the speed of long shot Magic Hour. Magic Hour has speed, but was beat 16 and one-half lengths in the Chilukki.

The long shot play in the race is My Option for Timothy Keeley and trainer Chris Block. My Option has won four races in her career over three different surfaces and is two-for-two over conventional dirt. She has; however, finished third in her last three starts. My Option is another with tactical speed and can adapt to any pace scenario. The Grade 3 winner has been working bullets at Hawthorne and is a live long shot and likely double digit odds.

First post on Thursday at Churchill is 11:30 pm ET with the Falls City off at 4:21.