On Nov. 22 the daughter of Victory Gallop landed back at her home base of Churchill Downs for the $324,300 Falls City Handicap (gr. II) (VIDEO). It turned out be a sweet homecoming, as she pulled off a mild upset in the 1 1/8-mile event on the main track, coming from well off the pace to do it.
Ridden by Calvin Borel, Kettleoneup was last along the rail throughout the backstretch, quietly gained ground around the final turn and then burst to the lead at the top of the lane, pulling away for a no-doubt-about-it 3 ¾-length victory at odds of nearly 8-1.
High Heels finished second, a half-length in front of favorite Panty Raid. Second choice Tessa Blue was fourth.
Kettleoneup stopped the clock in 1:50.28, scoring her fourth win in 10 starts this year.
Tessa Blue set the pace through three-quarters, posting fractions of 24.69, 49.25 and 1:13.57. Panty Raid, who was coming off a victory in the Oct. 7 Spinster (gr. I), was right near the lead, as was Delicate Dynamite.
But Kettleoneup, fifth after six furlongs, was moving decisively along the rail, which was wide open for Borel. They began pulling away by mid-stretch, putting away the field with every stride. High Heels was never a threat in second. Panty Raid, who had the lead around the final turn, weakened in the final sixteenth.
“They did not go that fast early," said Borel, who won the Falls City for the fourth time. "They were kind of bunched up, but I could have been anywhere because this filly is doing so good since her last race. She has been unbelievable. The way she has been training … I think the older she gets, the better she gets. I don’t know how good she is."
Kettleoneup, out of Storm Cat mare Bugs Rabbit, entered the race off a half-length win in the Oct. 16 Autumn Leaves Stakes at Mountaineer. Prior to that, she raced at Turfway Park, Monmouth, Churchill and Pimlico, none of them producing a trip to the winner’s circle.
Trained by Michael Tomlinson, Kettleoneup earned her only previous graded stakes score April 21 in the Sixty Sails Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne, also with Borel aboard.
"Calvin told us that her last two works she had felt better and felt stronger under him than she ever had, so we were pretty confident," Tomlinson said. "We were concerned about the pace and there wasn’t much pace, but she was absolutely running away with it. It probably is a testament to how good she is right now.
"This is it for the year. She will be looking at the series of filly and mare races right in to the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn.”
Going off as the fourth choice in a six-horse field, Kettleoneup paid $17.60 to win. The exacta (1-4) was worth $87.80, the trifecta (1-4-2) earned bettors $186.60.
Kettleoneup has now won six times in 17 career starts, earning more than $580,000.