By virtue of her impressive score in the Nov. 2 Chilukki Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, Phil Sims and Jerry Namy's Don't Tell Sophia will be the 122-pound high weight and likely favorite when she goes postward in the track's Falls City Handicap (gr. III) on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28.
The 5-year-old daughter of Congaree will face eight others in the 1 1/8-mile contest for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up, which has an approximate post time of 4:21 p.m.
Don't Tell Sophia completed her serious training for the Falls City Nov. 23 with a four-furlong work at Keeneland. The bay mare, who is trained by co-owner Sims, covered the distance in :49 over the Lexington track's Polytrack surface.
"She's coming into the race well," Sims said. "We gave her just a little maintenance work at a half-mile and galloped-out to six furlongs. It was just a slow easy work. She's fit for a mile-and-an-eighth, so that's not a concern."
Don't Tell Sohpia was purchased as a yearling at the 2009 Keeneland September sale for just $1,000. Heading into the Falls City, Don't Tell Sophia's career record stands at 16-7-3-2, for earnings of $440,814—$302,208 of which was won in 2013.
"We've had some purchases that were inexpensive that worked out pretty well, but not quite this well," Sims said. "This is very unusual. We always liked (Don't Tell Sophia) as a 2-year-old," said Sims, adding how he thought she was as good or better than grade I winner Hot Cha Cha, his biggest horse to date.
"She's a nice big, strong filly and she always looked like that," said Sims. "She also has a very good mind to her. I bought seven yearlings that year, and the one I paid $1,000 for I thought was the best of all of them. You never know."
Bred in Kentucky by Stonerside Stable, Don't Tell Sophia is out of the Valid Expectations mare Lost Expectations. She will break from the outside post under jockey Joe Rocco, who was aboard for the Chilukki.
Fiftyshadesofhay has won or placed in seven of eight starts this year, including victories in the Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II), Iowa Oaks (gr. III), and Santa Ysabel (gr. III). Trained by Bob Baffert for Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, the 3-year-old Pulpit filly posted a bullet work Nov. 24 when she ran five furlongs in :59 1/2 at Betfair Hollywood Park, the best of 72 horses at the distance. She has been assigned 3 post with Mike Smith in the irons.
Ice Cream Silence, a daughter of Street Sense, will attempt to snap a streak of four off-the-board efforts. The G. Watts Humphrey homebred's last victory came in the April 19 Hilliard Lyons Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland.
Trained by Rusty Arnold, she also posted an impressive bullet work at Churchill Downs Nov. 22 when covering four furlongs in :47 flat, the fastest of 63 horses at the distance. Ice Cream Silence will break from post 2 and will be ridden for the first time by jockey Julien Leparoux.
Other entrants include this year's Arlington Oaks (gr. III) winner My Option, Chilukki runner-up Wine Princess, and other 2013 stakes winners Flashy American and Magic Hour. Owl Moon and Molly Morgan complete the field.
$150,000 Falls City Handicap (gr. II, approximate post time 4:21 p.m. EDT), fillies and mares, 3YOs and up, 1 1/8 miles (dirt)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Flashy American (KY), L C J Lanerie, 118, K G McPeek
2. Ice Cream Silence (KY), L J R Leparoux, 114, G R Arnold, II
3. Fiftyshadesofhay (KY), M E Smith, 120, B Baffert
4. Owl Moon (KY), F C Torres, 112, D L Romans
5. Magic Hour (KY), B J Hernandez, Jr., 115, I R Wilkes
6. My Option (IL), E E Perez, 114, C M Block
7. Wine Princess (KY), S Bridgmohan,117, S Margolis
8. Molly Morgan (KY), J L Castanon,114, D L Romans
9. Don't Tell Sophia (KY), L J Rocco, Jr., 122, P A Sims