(November 27, 2008) – Domino Stud of Lexington, Inc.’s Miss Isella, getting a patented rail-skimming ride from Calvin Borel, won Thursday’s 93rd running of the $169,800 Falls City Handicap (GII) by a length over Skylighter on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs.
Miss Isella, a 3-year-old homebred daughter of 1997 Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm out of the Last Tycoon mare La Cucina, covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:50.78. The victory, the fourth in 11 starts for Miss Isella, was worth $98,959 and more than doubled her career earnings to $192,743.
The victory gave trainer Ian Wilkes his second career stakes score at Churchill Downs.
Swift Temper, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, led the field of 11 through early fractions of :23.77 and :47.89 in the run down the backstretch as Borel had Miss Isella positioned in mid-pack and next to the rail.
Leaving the backstretch, the field began to tighten with Swift Temper clinging to a precarious lead through six furlongs in 1:12.39. Turning for home, Miss Isella was eighth but had a clear shot along the fence that Borel took advantage of to surge to the lead in upper stretch.
Borel, who won the Falls City last year on Kettleoneup, also won the 1996 renewal on Halo America, in 1999 on Silent Eskimo and in 2003 on Lead Story.
Carrying 116 pounds, Miss Isella returned mutuels of $32.60, $12.60 and $8.20. Skylighter, carrying 115 pounds and Julien Leparoux, returned $5.40 and $3.80 as the second choice with Tell It as It Is, ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson and carrying 115 pounds, finishing another length back in third and returning $11.40 to show.
Swift Temper held on for fourth and was followed in order by Brownie Points, favored Spring Waltz, Tiz To Dream, Copper State, Stop a Train, Devil House and. Initforthekandy.
Leparoux rode three winners on the card to boost his Fall Meet-leading total to 54, one fewer than the 23-year-old record established by Pat Day.
The final two days of Churchill Downs’ 2008 Fall Meet will have special start times. Twelve-race cards on Friday (Clark Handicap Day) and Saturday (Closing Day/Stars of Tomorrow II) will begin early at 11:30 a.m. ET and grandstand admission gates will open at 10 a.m. ET.
Friday’s program is topped by the most lucrative race of the Fall Meet – the 134th running of the $400,000-added Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GII). Commentator, Magna Graduate and Einstein (BRZ), who have combined to earn $5,769,604 in their stellar careers, headline the 1 1/8-mile race, which will go as Race 11 at approximately 4:29 p.m.
The complete Clark Handicap field from the rail out (with jockey, weight and morning line odds): Delightful Kiss (Calvin Borel, 116 pounds, 15-1), Magna Graduate (John Velazquez, 120, 4-1), Einstein (Julien Leparoux, 119, 3-1), Commentator (John Velazquez, 124, 1-1), Anak Nakal (Jesus Castanon, 118, 12-1), Timber Reserve (Kent Desormeaux, 116, 15-1), Wayzata Bay (Israel Ocampo, 117, 15-1) and Dominican (Robby Albarado, 115, 15-1).
POST-RACE QUOTES – THE FALLS CITY HANDICAP
CALVIN BOREL (Jockey, MISS ISELLA, winner) – “She broke good and we gave them a five- or six-length head start and we took ’em from there. We set our own fractions – :22, :47 or 8. Ian [Wilkes] doesn’t give too many instructions and says ‘You know how to ride.’”
Q: Is this redemption from the non-disqualification in her last race?
“I can’t take anything away from the horse that beat me last time (Game Face), but I knew my filly would show up today. Ian and I talked and we knew it was a little close back-to-back, but we got a good race into her last time. I worked both of his horses (Miss Isella and seventh-place finisher Tiz to Dream) and he gave me the choice as to which one to ride. I think five or six months from now, you’re going to see a really good filly, this filly, because she’s just coming around.”
Q: Were you upset about the non-disqualification last time?
“Ian told me not to worry about it and to go about our business. We’re going to train our filly and we knew what we had with her; we knew how good she is. It was kind of depressing for the horse to get beat that way but that’s horse racing. It happens. . . She was there today when I wanted her and when the hole opened she was still there.”
Q: What is it about you and this race? [Note: Borel has won the Falls City Handicap five times: Halo America (1996); Silent Eskimo (1999), Lead Story (2003), Kettleoneup (2007) and Miss Isella (2008).]
“I don’t know. I am very lucky, I guess. It’s the end of the meet and fillies always seem to come ready at the end. . . It’s a wonderful ride. . . and I want to say hi to my [late] mama (Note: His mother Ella Borel passed away two weeks ago).”
IAN WILKES (Trainer, MISS ISELLA, winner) – “She’s really just been improving. She really just turned the corner and got better and better.”
Q: She hadn’t been in a stakes before . . .
“No. I wanted to take a shot. I tried to get into a two-turn race but it didn’t go and we used the [Nov. 15 allowance optional claiming] seven furlongs just as a work into this. The filly ran great. I’m just so happy for this filly. It’s a shame that Mr. [Ken] Jones [of Guam who owned Domino Stud in Lexington with his wife Elaine] passed away not too long ago and a shame that he wasn’t here. He really loved this filly. That’s the biggest disappointment of it all because she’s just getting better and better.”
Q: What’s next?
“She’s only three so I think she’s got a long year next year. When the daughters get back from Guam, I think they’re going to sort out their horses, the farm and everything. I know she’s nominated to the
January sale (Keeneland’s January Horses of All Ages Sale from Jan. 12-17) but whether she goes in is another thing. We’ve just got to wait and see what they want.”
JULIEN LEPAROUX, jockey on SKYLIGHTER (runner-up)
“She ran a good race. I don’t really have any excuse. She just ran out of gas a little. She came up at the quarter-pole like she was going to win and just got beat.”
EMMA-JAYNE WILSON, jockey on TELL IT AS IT IS (third)
“I thought she really ran well coming off those races on Polytrack and the grass. She’s always given a good account of herself on those surfaces and it really says something about her that she could come out her and be competitive on a dirt track. It was good. She’s always trained on the dirt track at Woodbine – we have a dirt training track there – and she loves it out there. So it wasn’t so much of a question for me – I knew she would be competitive and I was just really happy to see that she showed up and handled everything very well. The one thing I wasn’t sure of was whether she would handle the kick-back. They can train over it all they want, but if they don’t like the kick-back it’s a big deal.”
Q: Did you think you had a shot at it when you turned for home?
“At every point in the race I thought I had a shot to get it done. Until we hit the wire and I was third I thought I could win. She brought her game face today and coming around the turn she was making her typical move and handling the dirt really well, and I thought if we were good enough we’d get there. We ran third and it was a good effort.”
Q: The Falls City marked your first ride at Churchill Downs…
“This was the first time ever – first-time visited, first time I’ve ever been on the track. It was excellent. I took a moment coming back after the race to take in the grandstand. I’ve watched Kentucky Derbies from the time I was growing up and watching horse racing. It was really neat to be here and look up at the grandstand, so I made sure I took a moment from myself when I galloped her back. It was good. Hopefully there’ll be more adventures and they’ll be as successful as this one.”
Q: Hopefully you’ll get back here on the first Saturday in May…
“Yeah, we always have our fingers crossed for one of those.”
ROBBY ALBARADO, jockey on SPRING WALTZ (6th as the 2-1 favorite)
“We had a great trip. She made a nice run around the turn, but she just leveled off the last part. I don’t have any excuses.”
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