July 16, 2024

Grade 1 talent shows up for Falls City

Money'soncharlotte and jockey Paco Lopez win the 72nd running of the Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park on Sunday, July 30, 2017 (c) Bill Denver/Equi-Photo

Only seven distaffers were entered in Thursday’s $200,000 Falls City Handicap (G2) at Churchill Downs, but of those two are Grade/Group 1 winners and three others have placed at that level.

Weep No More and Blue Prize are the scorers, with the former upsetting the 2016 Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland by a neck and the latter recording Group 1 success in her native Argentina one race before shipping to the United States.

Neither filly has visited the winner’s circle since those victories, though. Weep No More hasn’t even been able to reach the top three, finished a well-beaten last of five in the Delaware Handicap (G1) on July 15, and trailed home in the off-the-turf Cardinal (G3) on Saturday. Brian Hernandez Jr. has the call on the Rusty Arnold four-year-old, should she wheel back in this spot.

Blue Prize has done much better for trainer Ignacio Correas IV, filling the runner-up spot in her first four U.S. races and most recently running third in the Spinster Stakes (G1) at Keeneland on October 8. James Graham has been aboard in four of the Pure Prize filly’s five domestic starts and retains the mount Thursday.

Money’soncharlotte has been runner-up in her past two and stretches back out to 1 1/8 miles in this spot following a close second in the one-mile Chilukki Stakes (G2) over the track on November 4. The Kelly Breen-trained five-year-old was second in the Beldame Stakes (G1) prior to that, snapping a four-race win streak that included the Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3). Corey Lanerie stays in the saddle after piloting Money’soncharlotte in the Chilukki.

Bob Baffert is shipping Faithfully cross-country from California for the Falls City after the four-year-old miss finished second in the Zenyatta Stakes (G1) last out on September 30. However, the Smart Strike filly is no stranger to Churchill, having captured and run second in a pair of allowances under the Twin Spires last year. This season has seen Faithfully earn her first stakes win via the June 4 Santa Lucia Stakes and also finish third in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) behind champion Stellar Wind and Grade/Group 1 queen Vale Dori. Robby Albarado takes the mount.

Motown Lady is still seeking that elusive first black-type victory after placing third in the Chilukki, Zenyatta and Tranquility Lake Stakes in her past trio of races. The Bret Calhoun-trained four-year-old was also fourth in the Hirsch prior to those three, and gets Joe Rocco Jr. in the irons for the first time Thursday.

Rachel’s Temper and Tiger Moth are the only runners in the field with no Grade 1 credit on their resumes, but the duo are still worthy to take on this bunch. Stakes winner Rachel’s Temper makes her first start for trainer Brendan Walsh in this spot off a fourth-placing against allowance/optional claiming rivals on September 28 at Belmont Park. Tiger Moth has captured the Groupie Doll Stakes (G3) and Mari Hulman George Stakes this season, and will try to rebound here following a pair of subpar performances against graded competition.