Updated on 09/15/2011 1:29PM

Only a soap opera has more plotlines


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The narrow margin that separated Unbridled Elaine and Spain on the finish line in the Breeders' Cup Distaff is reflected in the weight assignments for the $250,000 Falls City Handicap, the Thursday race that should provide a dramatic rematch of the two standout fillies.

Spain, a 4-year-old, will carry 122 pounds, one more than the 3-year-old Unbridled Elaine, who won the Oct. 27 Distaff by a head. Theoretically, Unbridled Elaine is the highweight, since 3-year-olds at this time of year are allotted three pounds in weight-for-age races such as the Distaff, in which Spain carried 123 to the winner's 120.

In any case, the showdown in the Grade 3, 1 1/8-mile Falls City offers numerous storylines besides the obvious significance of a Distaff rematch.

* Spain, as winner of the 2000 Distaff at Churchill, arguably lost the Eclipse Award for top 3-year-old filly when subsequently beaten a nose in the Falls City by Bordelaise. Bordelaise was ridden by Pat Day, who will ride Unbridled Elaine again Thursday.

* Robby Albarado, who rides Spain, rode Unbridled Elaine to her comeback victory here this spring before being taken off for Day and Gary Stevens in subsequent starts.

* Dallas Stewart, trainer of Unbridled Elaine, is still being asked about the twists and turns of how he lost the filly in mid-summer to trainer David Vance, only to get her back a week before the Distaff.

* Stewart worked for 11 years under Spain's trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. Asked whether the Falls City is something of a grudge match, Stewart broke into a big smile and asked: "Do you want it to be?"

The potential drama of the Falls City is not only befitting of Thanksgiving, a day that so many racing fans regard as a great sporting tradition, but the race also kicks off what should be another sensational end to a Churchill Downs fall meet. The Falls City leads into the Clark Handicap on Friday and the two closing-day features for 2-year-olds, the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and Golden Rod Stakes, on Saturday.

Besides the two highweights and favorites, the Falls City also is expected to attract a solid supporting cast. The other probables include the Spinster winner, Miss Linda, 119 pounds; Printemps, 117; De Bertie, 115; Maltese Superb, 112; and perhaps another starter or two. Entries were to be drawn Tuesday.

Tranquility Lake* (click here for lifetime PP's), who was nominated to and seriously considered for the Falls City and Clark, will remain instead in California, trainer Julio Canani said Sunday.

Include heads field for Clark

Include was expected to arrive early Tuesday after an overnight van ride from Laurel Park to begin final preparations as the strong favorite for the 127th running of the $400,000 Clark, the Grade 2 race that is the traditional meet highlight in non-Breeders' Cup years.

Include, trained by Grover "Bud" Delp of Spectacular Bid fame, will carry high weight of 120 pounds and will be ridden by Day in the 1 1/8-mile Clark. The 4-year-old Include was regarded as one of the top handicap horses this year when compiling a five-race win streak, including scores in the Grade 1 Pimlico Special and Grade 2 Massachusetts Handicap.

His rivals in the Clark are expected to be Connected, 116; Outofthebox, 116; Gander, 115; Storm Day, 111; Tribunal, 111; Tahkodha Hills, 110; Ubiquity, 110; Woodmoon, 109; and Trion Georgia, 108.

McPeek takes just one shot in KJC

After weeks of deliberation, trainer Ken McPeek announced Sunday that Repent, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up, will be his lone representative in the Grade 2, $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Repent breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 here Sunday morning. McPeek said he was particularly encouraged by the way Repent galloped out after the work. "He just rolls right on out like it's no problem," said McPeek.

Repent, owned by the Select Stable of Jerry and Feye Bach, will be ridden again by Kentucky veteran Tony D'Amico.

McPeek said he has turned out his other top 2-year-old, Iroquois Stakes winner Harlan's Holiday, for a brief freshening at nearby Longfield Farm.

"There's not a thing wrong with him," he said. "We just wanted to give him a little time before we head to Florida."

Listen Here, a Gulch colt trained by Bill Mott, could be the second choice in the 1 1/16-mile KJC Stakes. Listen Here is unbeaten in three starts, with his last win coming in the Oct. 1 Nashua at Belmont.

Other prospects include Gold Dollar, Governor Hickel, Holy Run, Jeremiah Jack, Magic Bid, Mountain Rage, Request for Parole, and Sky Terrace.

Take Charge Lady vs. Belterra

Take Charge Lady gives Select Stable and McPeek a top contender for the KJC's filly counterpart, the Grade 2, $200,000 Golden Rod.

D'Amico also will ride Take Charge Lady, winner of the Alcibiades at Keeneland before finishing a decent sixth in the BC Juvenile Fillies.

Belterra, the Unbridled filly who has been highly impressive in winning her only two career starts for Carl Nafzger, figures to challenge Take Charge Lady for favoritism in the 1 1/16-mile race.

The list of other probables in a field of about 10 includes Lotta Rhythm, upset winner of the Nov. 3 Pocahontas for Hal Wiggins.

Second Act connects at 90-1

Second Act, a 90-1 shot trained by John Bell IV, rallied to win the Sunday feature at Churchill, thus becoming the highest-paying winner here in over two years.

Second Act won a three-way photo under Orlando Mojica before returning $182.20, the most since Miss Seffens won her career debut at 93-1 on Nov. 16, 1999. Second Act, a 4-year-old colt by Notebook, was coming off back-to-back last-place finishes.

Turf Pick Three handle soars

With the fourth and final offering of the Churchill Downs Simulcast Network Turf Pick Three on Sunday, total handle for the multi-track wager was up 20 percent over last fall, when the CDSN Turf Pick Three made its debut.

Total handle was $527,366 for an average of $131,841, easily surpassing the $109,968 from last fall.

Longshots dominated the Turf Pick Three races this fall, leading to average payouts of $863 for a $1 wager.

* Entering the final five days of the meet, Steve Asmussen was poised to capture his first Churchill training title. Asmussen had 10 wins into the Tuesday card, followed by Paul McGee with seven and four others with six: McPeek, Nafzger, Stewart, and Chuck Simon.

* First post on each of the final three programs is 11:30 a.m. Eastern.

Tranquility Lake PP's*

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