Argentine-Bred Blue Prize Takes Falls City Handicap For First U.S. Graded Stakes Win

Merriebelle Stable LLC’s 4-year-old filly Blue Prize (Arg) took the lead from pacesetter Money’soncharlotte on the far and drew off in the stretch for a decisive 8 1/2-length triumph over Tiger Moth in the 102nd running of the $200,000 Falls City Handicap (Grade II) for fillies and mares on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs.

Blue Prize, trained by Ignacio “Nacho” Correas IV and ridden by James Graham, ran 1 1/8 miles over a fast track in 1:49.30 – the fastest Falls City since Silent Eskimo set the stakes record of 1:48.85 in the 1999 renewal – to notch her first graded stakes win in the United States. At age 3, she won the 1 1/4-mile Seleccion (GI) at Hipodromo Argentino de Palermo in her native Argentina.

“This horse just doesn’t get tired,” Graham said. “I think the distance today was perfect for her.”

Blue Prize, who entered the Falls City off a third-place finish in the Grade I Spinster at Keeneland on Oct. 8, stalked in second off the early pace set by multiple stakes winner Money’soncharlotte, who led the field of six through fractions of :23.82 and :47.76. Blue Prize ranged up to her outside as they entered the far turn and clocked six furlongs in 1:12.34 with even-money favorite Faithfully, the Southern California invader from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, attempting to keep up in third. Blue Prize got the jump on her rivals and drew away from the field down the lane with overwhelming authority.

“She took a little bit to put things together mentally when I first got her to the United States,” Correas said. “She figured it out in her second start at Saratoga. I think she didn’t really like the wet track at Keeneland in her last start but besides that she’s run really well. I thought she was training the best she has been in her career leading into this race and she proved it.”

Blue Prize, who carried 118 pounds during the victory, is a daughter of Pure Prize out of the Not for Sale (Arg) mare Blues for Sale (Arg), and was bred by Bioart S A.

The victory was worth $122,760 to her owners and brought Blue Prize’s career earnings to $333,860 from a record of 3-6-1 in 10 starts.

Blue Prize returned $8, $4.40 and $3.20 as the 3-1 third betting choice. Tiger Moth, who carried 117 pounds under Florent Geroux, rallied from the rear to finish second and returned $10.80 and $5.20. Faithfully was another length in third and paid $2.60 to show under Robby Albarado while carrying 120 pounds.

Rachel’s Temper, Motown Lady and Moneyoncharlotte, who shared the 120-pound starting high weight with Faithfully, completed the order of finish. Weep No More was scratched.

The Falls City is the traditional main dish on the Thanksgiving Day menu at Churchill Downs – a Louisville tradition since 1969 where more than 7,000 turkey dinners are served with all the trimmings, making it the largest number anywhere in the region.

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