The Elkstone Group’s Indiana homebred Lady Fog Horn – the reigning Indiana Horse of the Year – sounded off against open company on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs with a 1 ½-length triumph over Streamline in the 101st running of the $200,000 Falls City Handicap (Grade II) for fillies and mares.
Lady Fog Horn, trained by Tony Granitz and ridden by Albin Jimenez, ran 1 1/8 miles over a fast track in 1:50.85 to notch the eighth stakes win of her career but first outside of competition against fellow Indiana-breds.
For Jimenez, it was the first graded stakes win of his North American riding career, which began in 2010. Granitz secured his first graded stakes win since False Promises won the 2003 Hawthorne Derby (GIII).
Lady Fog Horn stalked the early pace set by She Mabee Wild as she led the field of 11 fillies and mares through fractions of :24.42, :49.18 and 1:14.27. Streamline raced in second in the clear down the backstretch with Lady Fog Horn under a snug hold down on the rail in third. Streamline drew even with the weakening leader at the head of the stretch and Lady Fog Horn was stuck in traffic awaiting room to run. A seam opened with three-sixteenths of a mile to run and Lady Fog Horn split horses and outkicked Streamline to the finish for the win.
“I saw (She Mabee Wild) take the lead and I was sitting in behind nice and easy,” Jimenez said. “My horse came down the stretch nice and strong. I thank God first and a thank you to the owner and the trainer and all the people that are involved.”
Lady Fog Horn, who carried 117 pounds during the victory, is a 4-year-old daughter of Zavata out of the Northern Spur (IRE) mare Titia.
The victory was worth $116,560 to her owner Stuart Grant and brought Lady Fog Horn’s career earnings to $764,553 from a record of 13-3-2 in 22 starts. She is the record-holder for the richest Indiana-bred female.
Lady Fog Horn returned $14, $6.20 and $5.80 as the 6-1 fourth betting choice. Streamline, who carried 117 pounds under Ricardo Santana Jr., returned $6.20 and $4.60 in finishing a half-length in front of Walkabout, who paid $9 to show under Brian Hernandez Jr. while carrying 116 pounds.
She Mabee Wild, Romantic Vision, Crooked Stick, Alotta Skirt, No Fault of Mine, Sweetgrass, 120-pound starting high weight Include Betty and 5-2 favorite Go Maggie Go completed the order of finish.
Lady Fog Horn scratched out of last Saturday’s $100,000 Cardinal Handicap (GII) on the turf in favor of Thursday’s Falls City.
“It was a tough call scratching her last week because we had run second in the Cardinal Handicap last year and she was doing so well,” Granitz said. “We were trying to make the right decision and it was a last minute one. Albin couldn’t ride her last Saturday. He had to ride in a stakes race in Ohio so I said, ‘I want her regular rider to come and ride her,’ and we knew today he could do that. It was a tough call and this was a big move for me to scratch her out of the race last week to put her in here.”
Prior to the Falls City, Lady Fog Horn won the $150,000 Frances Slocum at Indiana Grand on Oct. 29 for the second consecutive year – one of her six stakes victories over that track during the past two seasons.
The Falls City is the traditional main dish on the Thanksgiving Day menu at Churchill Downs – a Louisville tradition since 1969 where more than 7,000 turkey dinners are served with all the trimmings, making it the largest number anywhere in the region.
This year’s holiday program also included the 39th running of the $100,000 River City Handicap (GIII), a 1 1/8-mile test for older horses over the Matt Winn Turf Course, which was won by Thatcher Street.
Racing at Churchill Downs resumes on “Black Friday” with a 12-race program that begins at 1 p.m. (all times Eastern). The 143rd running of the $500,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) highlights a program that also includes the 26th running of the $200,000 Mrs. Revere (GII) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course and the $80,000-added Dream Supreme Overnight Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs. Also, there’s an 18-day Single 6 Jackpot carryover of $154,719 that covers Races 7-12 starting at 3:57 p.m.
FALLS CITY QUOTES
TONY GRANITZ, trainer of LADY FOG HORN (winner): “We’re excited. We’re even letting the jockey (Albin Jiminez) stay at our house! It was a tough call scratching her last week because we had run second in the Cardinal Handicap last year and she was doing so well. We were trying to make the right decision and it was a last minute one. Albin couldn’t ride her last Saturday; he had to ride in a stakes race in Ohio so I said, ‘I want her regular rider to come and ride her,’ and we knew today he could do that. It was a tough call and this was a big move for me to scratch her out of the race last week to put her in here.”
ABLIN JIMINEZ, jockey of LADY FOG HORN (winner): “She always breaks real quickly. I saw my competition from Indiana, number 5 (She Mabee Wild), she beat me in Indiana once earlier this year and so I saw her take the lead and I was sitting in behind nice and easy. My horse came down the stretch nice and strong. I thank God first and a thank you to the owner and the trainer and all the people that are involved.”
BRIAN WILLIAMSON, trainer of STREAMLINE (runner-up): “I thought she ran huge. We were all happy with her performance.”
Q: Will you head to Oaklawn with her? “The game plan was to go to Oaklawn. I was hoping to get a couple of races in her at Churchill before we went down there and it kind of worked out great. I had to sprint her first time, but that was the plan to try to get her set up for Oaklawn, but also try to win some money here.”
Q: You had to feel pretty good when the field turned for home … “She’s got a lot of heart and we couldn’t ask for anything more. It was a good race for her. We were so happy last spring when she was running lights out at Oaklawn, then she came up with a little problem after the Apple Blossom, but that seems to be behind her now. We’re just tickled to death with the way she ran today.”
RICARDO SANTANA JR., jockey on STREAMLINE (runner-up): “It was her first time at a mile-and-an-eighth and we were a little scared about the last sixteenth. She was coming back off a layoff and she ran okay. We were worried about that last little bit, but she ran really big and now she’s ready for that next race.”
IAN WILKES, trainer of WALKABOUT (third): “She ran good. She’s getting it together and she’s going to have a little break now. She’s going to be a nice, nice 4-year-old.”
BRIAN HERNANDEZ JR., jockey on WALKABOUT (third): “We had a great trip. For these kind of fillies they went really slow in front of us. We worked out a good trip and ended up getting up for third, which is good for this filly. Anytime you get a graded stakes placing on a filly, it’s huge.”