05/21/2010 11:00PM

Free Fighter by two in Louisville Handicap


LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Chicago invader Free Fighter got a great trip from just off the pace and went swooping to victory Saturday in the 73rd running of the at Churchill Downs.

With Francisco Torres riding for trainer Chris Block, Free Fighter drew clear leaving the quarter pole and was never threatened in the stretch run of the 1 1/2-mile turf race, prevailing by two lengths over Bearpath. Brass Hat, the 119-pound highweight in a field of 10 older horses, was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.

Free Fighter, based at Arlington Park, returned $27.20 after finishing in 2:31.30 over a yielding course. A 5-year-old Out of Place gelding, he was bred in Illinois by the trainer's family, Team Block, who co-owns Free Fighter with Thomas Fedro Sr.

Telling, the 5-2 favorite, set the pace to the far turn before Free Fighter, who had waited just behind Telling and Eagle Poise, launched an eye-catching outside run and proceeded to take it to the house.

"I thought the horse ran really huge and beat a solid field," said Block. "What's next? I'm not sure, except it'll be wherever they run a mile and a half."

Free Fighter now has won 7 of 20 starts. The Louisville was his second graded stakes win, following the Grade 3 Stars and Stripes last September at his home track.

Although the day was perfect weather-wise, the turf course was still saturated from heavy overnight rain. Two other scheduled turf races were transferred to the main track.