Lead Story, ridden by Calvin Borel, rallied along the inside on a sloppy Churchill Downs track to romp away in the $334,200 Fall City Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares Thursday by a widening 6 1/2 lengths.
Bettors could see only one horse in the nine-horse Fall City, Take Charge Lady, who was made the 3-5 favorite. But after stalking pacesetting Mayo On the Side into the stretch, the multiple grade I winner of more than $2.4 million faded to fifth in what was probably the final start of her career.
Instead, it was Lead Story, who stormed past Mayo On the Side in the stretch at odds of 10-1 for trainer Carl Nafzger and owner Steven A. Miles Jr. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Editor's Note completed the 1 1/8-mile Fall City in 1:51 1/5 on "sloppy" going.
"She's not the most talented filly in the world, but she's the most honest filly you ever had," said Nafzger. "She may not be the most sensational athlete out there, but she's going to give you 110 percent every time you run her."
Mayo On the Side, also trained by Nafzger, edged to the front early with Take Charge Lady and Golden Marlin on her flanks through opening fractions of :23 3/5, :47 4/5 and 1:12 3/5. Lead Story found running room along the inside while racing patiently in seventh down the backstretch and continued to make progress along the rail into the stretch. The chestnut hit the front a furlong from home and stormed away under energetic hand urging from Borel.
Mayo On the Side, Dean Butler aboard, was six lengths clear of Cloakof Vagueness and John McKee, who edged Misty Sixes by a nose for third.
Lead Story was coming off a stunning 35-1 victory over Awesome Humor in the Churchill Downs Distaff (gr. II) Nov. 8. She's 4-1-1 in eight career starts at Churchill, and had a win and a second-place showing in five previous starts on off going.
The Falls City marked a disappointing end to the career of Take Charge Lady, who had finished first or second in 18 of 21 career starts before Thursday's race. Trainer Ken McPeek said he expected owners Jerry and Feye Bach of Cincinnati to retire the 4-year-old who had finished sixth in the Breeders Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Santa Anita in her previous race.
"It's time," said McPeek. "She's had a great career. She obviously
wasn't herself last time out and I'm not sure what to attribute today to, but she's given us some thrills."
A $45,000 Keeneland yearling buy in September 2000, Lead Story improved her career line to 7-3-4 in 29 starts. She picked up a winner's share of $207,204 to increase her earnings to $606,291.
Cabotaba Partnership bred Lead Story, who was produced by the Seattle Dancer mare Gwenjinky.
Lead Story paid $22, $10 and $7.60. Mayo On the Side returned $17.20 and $10. The show on Cloakof Vagueness was $6. The $2 exacta was worth $219.20.