Favored River Belle, with an animated Kieren Fallon squeezing every last ounce of effort from her, won the $171,150 Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT) by a nostril over the surging Lenatareese at Churchill Downs Saturday.
Another nose behind was Cape Town Lass in the test of 3-year-old fillies. Sister Swank finished a close fourth in a blanket finish.
River Belle, winner of the Princess Margaret Stakes (Eng-II) at Ascot as a 2-year-old, notched her first graded stakes win in the United States since transferring to trainer Todd Pletcher during the summer.
"It was a nail-biter, for sure," Pletcher said by telephone from Florida. "I thought we had a great trip and he pulled her out and she came with a steady run. She didn't really have an explosive turn of foot, but she was able to continue on and wear them down."
The stakes win was the first for Fallon at Churchill Downs and his second victory of the day. He had earlier won the fifth race with Sure Size ($15.80). The 8-5 choice, she completed the 1 1/8-mile turf event in 1:44 2/5.
Fallon, the six-time European riding champion, angled River Belle off the rail for the stretch run. She was holding off Cape Town Lass and Dean Sarvis in the final strides when Lenatareese came flying at the wire with Larry Melancon aboard to just miss.
Fallon was in the irons when the British-bred daughter of Lahib-Dixie Favor (Dixieland Band
) won the Princess Margaret as the favorite in July 2003.
"I thought the horse on the outside (Lenatareese) was finishing and I didn't know if I had held on or not," said Fallon, who traveled from England to win his first stakes race at Churchill Downs. "She's a tough filly. It's the third time I've ridden her and the third time I've won on her, so she's done me good."
Lenatareese was unhurried early, rallying seven wide in the stretch. Cape Town Lass, also outrun early, slid along the hedge in the stretch to get the lead briefly from River Belle. She was barely outfinished in a game effort.
Black Rock Road seized the lead soon after the start. Jinny's Gold assumed command in the turn as Fallon positioned River Belle to swing to the outside and begin her charge.
Owned by Team Valor, Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and Green Lantern Stable LLC, River Belle was coming off a third-place finish behind Ticker Tape, beaten by a length, in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (gr. IT) at Keeneland Oct. 16. Saturday's victory, worth $106,113, was River Belle's fourth in eight career tries and pushed her career earnings to $266,084. She has won two of four in the U.S.
She paid $5.20, $3.60 and $3. Lenatareese returned $7.60 and $5.40 for a $49 exacta. Cape Town Lass was $9.80 to show.
After Sister Swank came Jinny's Gold, Black Rock Road, Topango, Casa Nekia, Sahmkindawonderful and With Affection.