Ken McPeek and Steve Flint, Churchill Downs-based trainers who have known each other for years, find themselves running the 3-year-old fillies who are the top two choices in the $250,000-added Falls City Handicap (gr. II) on Thanksgiving Day. And
neither has missed an opportunity to needle the other in recent days about the possible outcome of the 1 1/8-mile race.
McPeek will saddle Select Stable's Take Charge Lady, the winner of the Ashland (gr. I) and Spinster (gr. I) and 6-5 favorite for the Falls City. Flint will send out Richard, Elaine and Bert Klein's 2-1 second choice Allamerican Bertie, winner of the Delaware Oaks (gr. III) and runner-up in the Alabama (gr. I).Select Stable's Take Charge Lady, one of the brightest stars in an outstanding crop of 3-year-old fillies, looms as a solid favorite as she faces older rivals in the race. The daughter of Dehere finished second to Farda Amiga in in the grade I Kentucky Oaks. The only blemish on her fine 2002 campaign was a sixth-place finish in the grade I Breeders' Cup Distaff.Take Charge Lady will carry highweight of 122 pounds in the 1 1/8-mile Falls City."I'm excited about it," trainer Ken McPeek said. "I think she deserves to get a little redemption after what happened to her in the Breeders' Cup. She didn't run well."Take Charge Lady, who will concede from five to 10 pounds to her rivals, will be ridden by regular jockey Edgar Prado. Allamerican Bertie is coming off an eight-length victory over older rivals in an allowance race on the turf at Churchill. Flint's filly was a distant third to Take Charge Lady in their only previous meeting in the 1 1/16-mile Dogwood Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs in late May."I know Kenny's got a better filly, but I wouldn't trade with him right now for anything," said Flint. "I really think when this filly is on her game, she's as good as any filly that's around." Both fillies have excellent early speed and Flint thinks the race could come down to tactics. "What scares me is what happens if Kenny wants the lead and I want the lead and they go smoking around there?," said Flint. "They've got two smart riders -- Pat Day (on Allamerican Bertie) and Edgar Prado (on Take Charge Lady). If they're smart, they'll slow it down to about :48 (for the half) and may the best horse win when they turn for home."Here's the field in post-position order, with jockeys, weights, and morning-line odds:1. Take Charge Lady, 122, Edgar Prado, 6-5
2. Printemps, 117, Robby Albarado, 5-1
3. Softly, 116, Jon Court, 4-1
4. Lady Shari, 115, Constant Montpellier, 8-1
5. Allamerican Bertie, 117, Pat Day, 2-1
6. Due To Win, 112, Justin Vitek, 30-1