11/22/2011 2:36PM

Churchill Downs: Super Espresso seeks to end career on a high in Falls City Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Super Espresso will be seeking to end her racing career with a victory in Thursday's Grade 2, $175,000 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Todd Pletcher would like to see Super Espresso bow out the right way, and that would be by running the way she did six months ago on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico. Super Espresso is the co-highweight Thursday in the Grade 2, $175,000 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs.

“This is her last race,” Pletcher said. “We haven’t quite been able to get her to recapture that form she showed when she won the Allaire DuPont on Preakness Day, but she hasn’t embarrassed us, either. She’s been a consistent mare, and we’ve tried some ambitious spots with her.”

Super Espresso, a 4-year-old filly owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, will break from post 8 with Javier Castellano aboard in the 1 1/8-mile Falls City. She will share top weight of 121 pounds with Arena Elvira (post 1, Junior Alvarado) when they face eight other fillies and mares in the 96th Falls City, the 11th of 12 Thanksgiving Day races.

A no-threat seventh of nine when dismissed at nearly 33-1 in her last start, the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, Super Espresso still earned an 89 Beyer Speed Figure, typical for her this year. She earned a field-high 100 Beyer in her DuPont victory.

“She’s trained well since BC,” Pletcher said. “This isn’t an easy race by any means, but it certainly represents some class relief for her. We’d love to send her out on a good note.”

Arena Elvira is trained by Bill Mott, who just so happened to win the Ladies’ Classic with Royal Delta. Using a pace-stalking style, Arena Elvira has won 6 of her last 8 starts, including her last three in a row, and figures to be the one to catch down the lane.

Among the other top contenders is Ravi’s Song (post 10, Corey Lanerie, 117), who goes turf to dirt for Carl Bowman as one of the potential late-running threats.

“I think she’s going to run big,” Bowman said.

One of the handful of sleepers in the Falls City is Afleeting Lady, who will have Kent Desormeaux aboard when breaking between Super Espresso and Ravi’s Song from post 9. In her last start, a Nov. 12 two-turn allowance at Churchill, Afleeting Lady overcame post 12 in a 3 1/4-length victory.

“She ran an awful big race last out,” said trainer Dale Romans, who won the 2004 Falls City with Halory Leigh. “I’ve been going to the races at Churchill on Thanksgiving since I was a kid, and to win this race again would mean a lot to my family.”

The balance of the Falls City lineup includes It’s Tea Time, Riviera Chic, Spring Party, Juanita, Brushed by a Star, and Secret File.

The Falls City is another nickname for the city of Louisville. First run in 1875, the race underwent a number of changes before 1982, when the 1 1/8-mile distance became entrenched. The 2010 winner in a sea of slop was Dundalk Dust, ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan for trainer Chris Block.

One allowance is on the Thursday undercard, and it’s a high-end one. Chamberlain Bridge, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner, will be favored in a short field in race 6, a $54,000 classified race scheduled for five furlongs on the grass. Hamazing Destiny, the 2010 BC Sprint runner-up, is entered for “main track only” in case of inclement conditions.

First post is 11:30 a.m., with the Falls City going at 4:24 and the 12th race at 4:53.

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