Falls City favorite Take Charge Lady, winning the Spinster Stakes.

Falls City favorite Take Charge Lady, winning the Spinster Stakes.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Take Charge Lady Could End Career in Falls City Handicap

Select Stable's Take Charge Lady, one of America's finest fillies during her three years of racing, is a strong favorite to win what may be the final race of her distinguished career in Thursday's $300,000-added Falls City Handicap gr. II), the traditional Thanksgiving Day feature at historic Churchill Downs.

The 4-year-old daughter of Dehere, trained by Ken McPeek, will be reunited with jockey Tony D'Amico as she faces nine rivals in the 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares ages three and up. The Falls City kicks off Churchill Downs "Big Four Weekend" that features four major stakes with $1.2 million in purses over the final three days of its "Fall Festival Of Racing."

With her possible new career in the breeding shed looming, Take Charge Lady will team with D'Amico, a 47-year-old veteran of the Kentucky racing circuit, for the first time since her victory in the Dogwood (gr. III) at Churchill Downs in June of last year. D'Amico was aboard Take Charge Lady for the first 10 races of her career, six of which were victories. Those outings included a win in the Ashland (gr. I) at Keeneland, the only grade I triumph of D'Amico's career, and a runner-up finish to Farda Amiga in Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).

"Riding her has been one of the biggest thrills of my career," D'Amico said. "She's probably one of best fillies I've ever sat on in my life. It's great to be in the limelight and she's one of the best things every to happen to me in my whole career."

Take Charge Lady, a two-time winner of the Keeneland's Spinster (gr. I), was assigned highweight of 123 pounds for the Falls City and will concede from seven-to-13 pounds to her opponents. She finished a disappointing sixth in last month's Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) at Santa Anita, but has a remarkable career record of 11-7-0 in 21 races and has earned $2,470,351. Take Charge Lady, the runner-up to Allamerican Bertie in the 2002 Falls City, has been installed as the morning line 6-5 favorite for this year's renewal by oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.

While there is a chance that Take Charge Lady could run again, the Falls City will definitely be the final race for WinStar Farm's Awesome Humor, the 4-1 second choice. The 3-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor won the Debutante (gr. III) at Churchill Downs and the Spinaway (gr. I) at Saratoga as a 2-year-old and took the Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks ( gr. III) this fall for trainer Elliott Walden. Like Take Charge Lady, Awesome Humor is always in the picture and brings a record of 6-4-0 in 11 races with earnings of $848,960 into her racing finale.

"She's doing real well," said Walden. "We're looking forward to running her. It's bittersweet, but hopefully we'll go out on top and it'll be a fun day."

Awesome Humor will be ridden by Larry Melancon at 116 pounds.

Another Falls City contender is A. Stevens Miles, Jr.'s Lead Story, a 36-1 upset winner over Awesome Humor in the Churchill Downs Distaff (gr. II). The daughter of Editor's Note is trained by Carl Nafzger, who will also saddle Mayo On The Side in the Falls City.

Other contenders include a trio of improving 3-year-olds: Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) runner-up Fircroft; Dogwood (gr. III) winner Golden Marlin; and Cloakof Vagueness, second to Awesome Humor in the Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. III).

The field for the Falls City Handicap (gr. II):
Post Position -- Horse, Weight, Jockey, Morning Line Odds
1--Mayo On The Side, 114, Dean Butler, 15-1
2--Fircroft, 112, Pat Day, 5-1
3--Sweetwater Promise, 110, Rafael Bejarano, 30-1
4--Lead Story, 116, Calvin Borel, 8-1
5--Awesome Humor, 116, Larry Melancon, 4-1
6--Cloakof Vagueness, 114, John McKee, 15-1
7--Misty Sixes, 113, James Lopez, 20-1
8--Take Charge Lady, 123, Tony D'Amico, 6-5
9--Golden Marlin, 114, Craig Perret, 6-1
10--Rhiana, 114, Cornelio Velasquez, 30-1
Morning Line odds by Mike Battaglia