A rare meeting of three Breeders' Cup winners--including a rematch of the last two winners of the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I)--headlines one of the most memorable renewals of Churchill Downs' $250,000 Falls City Handicap (gr. III), which shares the spotlight with the traditional turkey and trimmings on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs.
The 86th running of the Falls City will provide a rematch of Roger Devenport's 2001 Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine and the Thoroughbred Corp.'s Spain, the 2000 Distaff winner and runner-up in this year's renewal at Belmont Park. Unbridled Elaine unleashed a breathtaking stretch run under Pat Day to nip Spain by a head on Breeders' Cup Day. They will be joined in the field of seven older fillies and mares in the 1 1/8-miles Falls City by Carl Pollard's Caressing, the winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and was named 2-year-old filly champion last year.
The Falls City is the eighth race on an 10-race Thanksgiving Holiday card at Churchill Downs. Post time for the first race on the special holiday weekend card is 11:30 a.m. (EST).
Eclipse Award championships could be on the line in the Falls City for both Unbridled Elaine, a contender for the 3-year-old filly championship, and Spain, who could still be in the hunt in a wide-open battle as the nation's best older filly or mare. Either filly would do much to solidly her credentials with a win over a star-studded group that includes six grade I or group I stakes winners and may be the deepest field in the history of the Falls City.
The Dallas Stewart-trained Unbridled Elaine has compiled a record of 6-2-0 in 10 starts and has career earnings of $1,743,390. She missed the first half of the year while recovering from surgery, but a win in the Falls City could cap a late season bid for an Eclipse Award that includes wins in the Monmouth Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) and Iowa Oaks and a runner-up finish to Macho Uno in a run against males in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. III).
"She showed what she could do on Breeders' Cup Day," said Stewart. "She beat the best that day and if she could come back and beat that same filly again, I think you'd have to strongly consider her."
The D. Wayne Lukas-trained Spain had a clear lead in the stretch in this year's running of the Distaff, only to be passed in the final yards by Unbridled Elaine. The daughter of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch ran in last year's Falls City, where she lost by a nose to Bordelaise.
Pat Day will ride Unbridled Elaine, who will carry 121 pounds as the 9-5 morning line favorite. Spain, who will carry highweight of 122, will be ridden by Victor Espinoza and is listed as the 3-1 second choice in the morning line.
Caressing, trained by David Vance, finished fourth in the recent Churchill Downs Distaff (gr. II). She is listed as the longest shot in the Falls City field at 12-1.
Other stars in the Falls City field include Miss Linda, winner of the Overbrook Spinster (gr, I) at Keeneland; Acorn (gr. I) winner Forest Secrets; Printemps, winner of Hollywood Park's Hawthorne Handicap (gr. II) and a group I winner in Chile; and Rampart (gr. II) winner De Bertie.