Played Hard, Dalika head Churchill’s Thanksgiving stakes

(Churchill Downs stakes advance by the track’s publicity department. Coady Photography photo above of Played Hard in Locust Grove win)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022) – Rigney Racing’s Played Hard , winner of the $400,000 Locust Grove (Grade III), will headline a field of six fillies and mares that were entered in Thanksgiving Day’s 107th running of the $500,000 Falls City (GIII) at Churchill Downs.

          The 1 1/8-mile Falls City has been run on Thanksgiving Day since 1987. This year’s event will go as Race 10 of 12 with a post time of 3:53 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post is 11:30 a.m. and the card also features the $300,000 Cardinal Stakes (GIII) in Race 11.

          Trained by Phil Bauer, Played Hard drew off to a 5 ¾-length victory in the Sept. 17 Locust Grove. In her next start, the improving 4-year-old daughter of Into Mischief finished third to eventual Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) winner Malathaat in the $600,000 Spinster (GI). Overall, Played Hard sports a record of 13-4-5-2 and has banked $672,870 in purse earnings. The versatile filly has yet to finish off the board in her 2022 campaign with three wins, one second and one third-place effort. Played Hard will be ridden in the Locust Grove by Joel Rosario from post No. 4.

          Chief among her competition that entered the Locust Grove is S.M.D. Ltd.’s multiple stakes-winning Pennsylvania-bred filly Leader of the Band. Trained by John Servis and ridden by Luis Saez, Leader of the Band was victorious as a 3-year-old in the $259,000 Monmouth Oaks (GIII). Along with her Monmouth Oaks score, Leader of the Band’s résumé includes wins in the $135,000 Summer Colony at Saratoga and $102,000 Lady’s Secret at Monmouth. In her last start, the 4-year-old filly finished second as the heavy 2-5 favorite to Love in the Air in the $200,000 Plum Pretty at Parx. Leader of the Band drew the rail in the Falls City.

          Other accomplished horses that entered the Falls City include Cypress Creek Equine’s Grade I-placed Ava’s GraceKaleem Shah’s three-time winning California invader BellamoreFarfellow Farms’ stakes winner Moon Swag; and Robert Zoellner’s stakes winner She’s All Wolfe

          Here’s the complete field for the Falls City from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Leader of the Band (Saez, Servis); Bellamore (Martin Garcia, Simon Callaghan); Moon Swag (Tyler Gaffalione, Brendan Walsh); Played Hard (Rosario, Bauer); Ava’s Grace (David Cohen, Ricky Courville); and She’s All Wolfe (Joe Rocco Jr., Donnie K. Von Hemel).

          The Falls City was first run in 1875 and was restricted to 3-year-olds. Camargo won the first running, which was a match race worth a purse of $1,125. The favorites have only won the Falls City twice in the last 10 years: Mylady Curlin (2019) and Afleeting Lady (2012)

          Fans can watch and wager on the Fall City and every race from Churchill Downs, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs Incorporated and the Kentucky Derby.

Racing on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs has been 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.

GRADE I WINNER DALIKA (GER) TOPS FIELD OF 10 ENTERED IN GRADE III, $300,000 CARDINAL – Bal Mar Equine’s $500,000 Beverly D. (Grade I) winner Dalika will return to Churchill Downs and headline a contentious field of 10 fillies and mares that were entered in the $300,000 Cardinal Stakes (GIII) on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs.

Dalika, Brian Hernandez up winning Churchill Downs’ Grade 1 Beverly D/Coady Photography

          The 47th running of the Cardinal will be run at 1 1/8 miles on turf and go as Race 11 of 12 at 4:22 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post is 11:30 a.m. The card also will feature the $500,000 Falls City (GIII), which will go as Race 10 at 3:53 p.m.

          Trained by Al Stall Jr., Dalika was the half-length victor in the Aug. 13 Beverly D., which was contested for the first time at Churchill Downs. The striking gray 5-year-old mare primarily trains at the Skylight Training Center, located about 40 minutes from Churchill Downs in Goshen, Ky. Overall, Dalika has won nine of her 30 starts and tabbed $1,292,786 in purse earnings. JockeyBrian Hernandez Jr. will be in the saddle for the Cardinal and break from post No. 5.

          The competitive Cardinal field also includes Godolphin’s Grade III winner Adventuring and Grade III placed Lake Lucerne and Silverton Hill’s multiple stakes winner Pass the Plate

          Here is the complete field for the Cardinal from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Pass the Plate (Joe Talamo, Paul McGee); Disappearing Act (Corey Lanerie, Carlos Santamaria); Perseverancia (Julien Leparoux, Cherie DeVaux); Lake Lucerne (Tyler Gaffalione, Brendan Walsh); Dalika (GER) (Hernandez, Stall); Adventuring (Joel Rosario, Brad Cox); Sunny One(Vince Cheminaud, Conor Murphy); Flippant (Rafael Bejarano, Vicki Oliver); Curly Ruth (Luis Saez, Eddie Kenneally); and Wave of Goodness (Mitchell Murrill, Armando Hernandez).

Jennie Rees is a communications and advocacy specialist in the horse industry who spent 32 years covering horse racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal before taking a corporate buyout. In addition to handling communications for the Kentucky HBPA, Rees is Kentucky Downs’ publicity director, manages in-season racing publicity for Ellis Park and serves as a consultant to the National HBPA. Other projects include the Preakness Stakes, Indiana Grand’s Indiana Derby Week and work for various HBPA affiliates and horsemen’s associations.