08/24/2012 1:50PM

Ferndale: Falling Knife travels north for the C.J. Hindley Humboldt County Marathon


Trainer Billy Morey was thinking of the C.J. Hindley Humboldt County Marathon when he claimed Falling Knife for $25,000 at Del Mar on Aug. 9.

“It’s the only reason we claimed him,” said Morey, who made the claim for the Joseph P. Morey Jr. Revocable Trust.

On Sunday, he’ll see if the claim pays off when Falling Knife meets seven rivals in the $30,000, 1 5/8-mile race that closes the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale.

The quality of racing at Ferndale and Del Mar is separated by almost the distance between California’s northernmost and southernmost tracks.

But the claim makes sense to Morey.

“For sure, $30,000 is attractive,” Morey said. “He’s won at 2 1/4 miles, so he definitely wants distance.”

The Marathon used to be a $12,500 starter handicap, but racing secretary Tom Doutrich opened it up this year when he doubled the purse. The result is the toughest field ever to sign up for the race. A full field of eight will run on Ferndale’s half-mile track, with Turbulent Creek on the also-eligible list.

The distance and the fact that horses pass the finish line four times during the race make the Marathon special.

“It’s a fun race to win, and a hard one to win,” said Morey, who tried to win the race with the recently claimed Potri Cacho in 2004, who finished second by three-quarters of a length behind Clip.

“The comment in the Form was that he ran out of room, and I bet that’s the first time a comment like that was ever used in a 1 5/8-mile race,” Morey said.

Falling Knife, a 6-year-old Cozzene gelding, ran second, beaten a half-length, in the Grade 3, 1 1/2-mile Turfway Park Fall Championship earlier in his career, which includes 5 wins from 23 starts.

He’s not the only runner with a graded-stakes placing in the field.

Northern Indy, a 4-year-old A.P. Indy colt, won the 1 7/8-mile Hasta La Vista on the turf at Turf Paradise earlier this year and was second in the Grade 3 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park last year.

The field also includes defending champ Steel Blue, whose jockey, Barrington Harvey, is looking for his third straight Marathon win. The 6-year-old Touch Gold gelding brings a two-race win streak into the race.

Also entered are Autism Awakeness, who just won a maiden race here last weekend; Wegner, Gold Coast Striker, Mississippi Gold, and Norville.