James Tafel's homebred Softly was doing fine Sunday after her upset victory in the 17th running of the Churchill Downs Distaff (gr. II) and the 4-year-old daughter of Binalong will apparently aim at the $250,000 Falls City Handicap at Churchill on Thanksgiving Day.
The Carl Nafzger-trained 4-year-old will try to become the first to win both stakes in the same year. The Nov. 28 Falls City is at 1 1/8 mile.
Assistant trainer Ian Wilkes said that Softly was doing well after her first graded stakes victory.
"It's very satisfying," said Wilkes. "We were starting to doubt whether she could go with these horses."
Wilkes believes Softly could have scored her breakthrough victory earlier had it not been for a breathing problem that hampered her progress in early summer. She displaced her soft palate -- a throat problem that also sidelined stablemate Belterra -- and required surgery to correct the problem.
The win by Softly has the fingerprints of owner/breeder Tafel all over it. He owned and raced the stallion, Binalong, and raced both the dam, Coragill, and her sire, Metfield. Tafel has campaigned several quality runners by Binalong, a stallion who was recently relocated to stand in Michigan.
Although Binalong was not a major success when he stood in Kentucky, he was supported strongly by Tafel, who sent his best mares to the stallion and was rewarded with horses such as multiple stakes winner Binalegend, Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) runner-up Binthebest, and Softly.