11/25/2004 1:00AM

Halory Leigh captures Falls City

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Halory Leigh wins the Falls City, giving jockey Eddie Martin his first stakes win at Churchill.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Halory Leigh punctuated her terrific recent form when she drew off for her third straight victory Thursday in the 89th running of the Grade 2, $325,200 at Churchill Downs.

Giving jockey Eddie Martin Jr. his first Churchill stakes win, Halory Leigh crept closer to the leaders leaving the backstretch of the 1 1/8-mile Falls City before wearing down a stubborn Susan's Angel to prevail by 2 3/4 lengths. Miss Fortunate finished third in the field of seven fillies and mares.

Halory Leigh returned $4.40 as the favorite after finishing in 1:51.81 over a fast track. She became the third filly to sweep the Churchill Distaff and Falls City, following Feasibility Study (1997) and Lead Story (2003). Halory Leigh now has won 7 of 21 starts and earned $612,872.

"Boy, she really has gotten good this fall," said Dale Romans, who trains Halory Leigh, a 4-year-old Halory Hunter filly, for the partnership of Jerry Crawford, Matt Gannon, and Charlie Grask. "We'll give her a little time off, take her to Florida, and point toward the Humana Distaff here in May."

On a sunny and chilly afternoon, Indy Groove, the 3-1 second choice, set the early fractions but was no match for Susan's Angel, then Halory Leigh, as those two drew off from the rest down the stretch.

In earlier races Thursday:

* Commentator ($3) gave the most dazzling performance of the day by remaining unbeaten with a frighteningly easy victory in a $54,000 allowance at one mile. With Pat Day aboard, Commentator led throughout and was never asked for his best, winning by eight lengths in 1:35.91.

"This is one hell of a horse," said trainer Nick Zito.

Commentator, a New York-bred 3-year-old gelding by Distorted Humor, now has won his five starts by a combined 42 lengths.

* Brian Hernandez, the leading candidate for the Eclipse Award among apprentice riders, won three of the first four races Thursday, tightening the race for meet-leading jockey. Hernandez, Day, and John McKee were crowded atop the standings entering the final two days of the meet.