11/27/2014 5:11PM

Frivolous pulls upset in Falls City Handicap

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – At his lowest this spring, Jon Court wondered whether his badly injured hand would ever permit him to ride races again.

But with an arduous recovery well behind him, Court is about as successful as ever, a notion punctuated by a 19-1 upset Thursday aboard a filly named Frivolous in the 99th running of the Grade 2, $222,600 Falls City Handicap, the traditional Thanksgiving feature at Churchill Downs.

Frivolous, bred and owned by G. Watts Humphrey, held off a sustained stretch bid by the odds-on Don’t Tell Sophia to win the 1 1/8-mile Falls City by a half-length. Molly Morgan was just another neck back in a field of eight fillies and mares.

For Court, who turned 54 on Sunday, it was his 16th victory at the Churchill fall meet, many of them on longshots. The return on investment on his mounts is almost $4 for every $2 wagered.

“I couldn’t imagine winning the way I have been,” said Court. “It’s extremely satisfying in light of the severity of the injury I had.”

Court sustained multiple fractures of his right hand in the last race on the May 3 Kentucky Derby undercard. He returned to action in September and won with just 3 of his first 86 mounts before his Churchill onslaught ensued.

On a near-freezing afternoon, and under the lights, Teen Pauline set a leisurely pace over a track rated “fast,” going in fractions of 25 seconds, 49.11, and 1:13.47. Just behind her, Court had Frivolous in a nice rhythm in closest chase before finally deciding to go after Teen Pauline leaving the half-mile pole.

Down the stretch, Frivolous clung to a slim lead as Don’t Tell Sophia loomed to her outside and Molly Morgan rallied boldly up the rail. But Frivolous was kept to steady urging and held sway, finishing in 1:51.24 for her first win in a stakes and just her third from 17 overall starts. She returned $40.80 as the second-longest shot in the field.

Frivolous, a 4-year-old filly by Empire Maker, is trained by Humphrey’s daughter, Vicki Oliver. The filly will be sent Sunday to her winter base, Payson Park, with the intention of being freshened for a 2015 campaign.

Don’t Tell Sophia, sent away as the 9-10 favorite after finishing second to Untapable in the Oct. 31 Breeders’ Cup Distaff in her prior start, appeared to hang slightly in the final 100 yards. She is scheduled to go to Oaklawn Park in mid-December and race as a 7-year-old, said owner-trainer Phil Sims.

After the top three, the Falls City order was Flashy American, Tiz Windy, Mufajaah, Strut the Course, and Teen Pauline. Imposing Grace and Endless Chatter were early scratches.

The $2 exacta (9-7) paid $113.20, the $1 trifecta (9-7-6) returned $207.90, and the 10-cent superfecta (9-7-6-5) was worth $74.73.