Afleeting Lady makes it three straight in Falls City

After posting convincing wins in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm and Lady's Secret, Afleeting Lady made it three in a row on the Thanksgiving Day program at Churchill Downs, scoring by a 2 1/4-length margin in the Grade 2, $162,450 Falls City Handicap.

The five-year-old half-sister to multiple Grade 1-winning star Shackleford increased her career earnings to $473,526 from a 20-7-4-2 record.

"She looked comfortable the whole race and I thought she would run big, and she did. I think she's still improving," trainer Dale Romans said of the up-and-coming mare. "We're going to sit down and decide whether we want to go on with her now or retire her. We'll make a decision in the next few days."

Owned by Alpha Delta Stables and Richard Santulli, the daughter of Afleet Alex was guided by Joel Rosario, who settled Afleeting Lady into a perfect tracking position early, a length back of the pacesetting Joyful Victory through opening splits of :23 3/5 and :47 3/5. The winner took command with three furlongs to run, passing the three-quarter mark in 1:12, and shook clear after entering stretch, extending her margin to nearly five lengths with a furlong remaining.

Recent Grade 2 Chilukki winner Brushed by a Star offered a late rally but was never a serious threat, winding up 3 1/4 lengths better than Joyful Victory in third. Last year's winner Arena Elvira came next in fourth and was followed by Maristar, Aint She a Saint and Sea Level Drive.

Afleeting Lady completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:51 1/5 on the fast track.

"I had a perfect trip and she had me in a good spot the whole way," Rosario said. "Like I said, I let her do what she wanted to do and she put me in the winner's circle."

Sent off the 6-5 favorite, Afleeting Lady returned payouts of $4.60, $3 and $2.40

Bred in Kentucky by James Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge, Afleeting Lady is out of the notable Unbridled mare Oatsee, a stakes-placed performer on the track who has achieved much more success through her offspring. She is the dam of 2011 Preakness winner and 2012 Met Mile winner Shackleford, an earner of more than $2.8 million who will make his final career start in Friday's Grade 1 Clark at Churchill Downs; Grade 1 winner Lady Joanne; multiple Grade 3 queen Baghdaria; and three-year-old stakes winner Stephanoatsee, who finished third in the recent Grade 3 Discovery.

Afleeting Lady finished second by a neck in the 2011 Falls City and also placed in the Mari Hulman George at Hoosier Park last year. She recorded a non-threatening second to Royal Delta in the Grade 2 Fleur des Lis at Churchill in June and after a disappointing sixth in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Stakes on July 29, broke through with her first stakes win in the September 3 Lady's Secret at Monmouth Park, romping by 4 1/2 lengths. She entered the Falls City off a 3 1/2-length triumph in the October 27 Turnback the Alarm at Belmont Park.

Romans captured his second Falls City Handicap after saddling Halory Leigh to victory in 2004, and Rosario won three races on the Thanksgiving Day card.

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