November 26, 2015
Source: Paulick Report

Stoneway Farm’s homebred 3-year-old filly Ahh Chocolate rated patiently in second before taking command in the stretch and drew away to win the 100th running of the $200,000 Falls City Handicap Presented by TwinSpires.com (Grade II) on Thanksgiving Day at Churchill Downs by 1 ½ lengths over Theogony.

Ahh Chocolate, trained by Neil Howard and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., ran 1 1/8 miles over a fast track in 1:49.68 – the fastest Falls City renewal since Allamerican Bertie clocked 1:49.60 in 2002. It was the first graded stakes win of Ahh Chocolate’s career.

“She’s been a nice filly,” said Howard, who won the 1998 Falls City Handicap with Tomisue’s Delight. “She may have not won every time but she’s always given us 100 percent. … We’ve always thought highly of her and … she’s going to be a lot better with age.”

Ahh Chocolate, a runner-up in the Grade II Chilukki on Nov. 1, and Theogony tracked pacesetter Gambles Rose, who led the field of nine fillies and mares through early fractions of :24.12, :48.31 and 1:12.77. Hernandez moved Ahh Chocolate wide on the final turn, took the lead at the head of the lane and never looked back as the runner-up chased the winner.

“We got a great spot around the backside and from there we were on the best horse,” Hernandez said.

Third in the Black-Eyed Susan (GII) on the day before the Preakness at Pimlico, Ahh Chocolate was subsequently fourth in the Indiana Oaks (GII) and 10th in the Arlington Park’s Pucker Up (GIII) on turf. Howard gave the filly a brief freshening and she returned in September with a trio of one-turn races, including a 4 ½-length defeat but runner-up effort in the Chilukki.

“She always looked like she was going to get the two turns but Neil did the right thing by going back to a one-turn mile last time,” Hernandez said. “It sharpened her up for this race today.”

Ahh Chocolate, who carried 115 pounds during the victory, is a Kentucky-bred 3-year-old daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) out of the Saint Liam mare Ahh. The victory was worth $119,040 to her owner/breeder Jim Stone and brought Ahh Chocolate’s career earnings to $119,040 from four wins, one second and one third in nine career starts.

Ahh Chocolate returned $14.20, $7 and $4.20 as the 6-1 third betting choice. Thegony, who carried 117 pounds under Julien Leparoux in her first race on dirt, returned $12 and $7 in finishing one length in front of Call Pat, who paid $4 to show under Joe Rocco Jr. while carrying 117 pounds.

Birdatthewire, the 2-1 favorite and 118-pound starting high weight, was another three lengths back in fourth and was followed by Pretty Fancy, No Fault of Mine, Salama, Gamblers Rose and Montana Native.

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