11/26/2015 6:23PM

Ahh Chocolate gets first stakes win in Falls City

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Ahh Chocolate and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. win the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap by 1 1/2 lengths Thursday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Ahh Chocolate emerged with her first stakes victory Thursday at Churchill Downs in the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap, a race marred by the fatal breakdown of one of the favorites, Chide.

Ahh Chocolate, ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., got a great trip when laying just off the pace and proceeding to a 1 1/2-length triumph over Theogony in the 100th running of the $200,000 Falls City, the traditional Thanksgiving Day feature.

Chide, the 5-2 second choice under Miguel Mena, broke down badly in her left foreleg while racing in seventh position approaching the quarter pole. The 3-year-old filly, bred and owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider, was euthanized shortly thereafter.

Mena took off his lone remaining mount but was reported by Churchill personnel to have escaped serious injury. No other horses or jockeys were affected.

For trainer Neil Howard, the victory by Ahh Chocolate was his second in a graded race this year, following the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap score by Xtra Luck in May, which snapped a four-year drought for the veteran trainer. Howard guided Mineshaft to a Horse of the Year campaign in 2003.

“I’m so happy for this filly and for the people who bred and own her,” he said, referring to the Stoneway Farm of Jim Stone. “We’ve always thought a whole lot of her.”

Ahh Chocolate tracked 29-1 shot Gamblers Rose through fractions of 24.12, 48.31, and 1:12.77 before surging to a clear lead as the field straightened for home. She was never threatened thereafter, as Theogony, also close up throughout, held second by a length over Call Pat. Birdatthewire, the 2-1 favorite, had to overcome a sluggish start before managing to get up for fourth.

Ahh Chocoate, a 3-year-old daughter of Candy Ride, returned $14.20 as the fourth choice in the field of 10 fillies and mares after finishing in 1:49.68 over a fast track. She now has won four of nine starts and was coming off a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Chilukki earlier this month at Churchill.

Howard said she will get about 30 days off before returning to him at Fair Grounds around the first of January.

The Falls City lost some luster earlier in the day when the morning-line favorite, Frivolous, was scratched after suffering what trainer Vicki Oliver described as a tendon strain in a routine gallop Thursday morning. Frivolous, a 5-year-old mare by Empire Maker, retires with earnings of $750,718.

Another would-be contender, Tiz So Sweet, was scratched about 25 minutes to post because of a temperature, according to Kenny McCarthy, assistant to trainer Bill Mott. Longshot Needmore Flattery was an early scratch.

The $2 exacta (6-11) paid $124.40, the $1 trifecta (6-11-2) returned $419.90, and the 10-cent superfecta (6-11-2-9) was worth $135.46.