Ken McPeek’s stable star Swiss Skydiver is on holiday, but fellow 3-year-old filly Envoutante picked up the baton and ran away with Thursday’s $200,000 Falls City Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. Controlling the pace on the rail for Brian Hernandez, the 2.60-1 chance was long gone by the time 4-5 favorite Bonny South could get into gear.
Envoutante and Bonny South had traded decisions over the summer. In the July 11 Ashland (G1), Envoutante was a well-beaten third with Bonny South a one-paced fourth. Bonny South appreciated the 1 1/4 miles of the Aug. 15 Alabama (G1), where she finished strongly for second to Swiss Skydiver, and Envoutante weakened to fourth.
But the rubber match on Thanksgiving was no contest. Long highly regarded by McPeek, a maturing Envoutante had since posted a breakthrough score in the Sept. 27 Remington Park Oaks (G3), and the pace scenario also worked in her favor.
Envoutante capitalized on her rail draw to grab the early lead from the faster-starting Our Super Freak. Hernandez rationed out her speed through splits of :24.25, :48.95, and 1:13.21 on the fast track, then turned her loose into the stretch. The daughter of Uncle Mo dashed six lengths clear and completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.11. According to Churchill publicity, Envoutante recorded the fastest Falls City time in two decades, since Silent Eskimo established the 1:48.85 stakes record in 1999.
“It was my first time on her for a race,” Hernandez said, “but I’ve worked her and worked against her before, too, with Swiss Skydiver. She really kicked away from the field today and was very dominant. At the three-eighths pole I got her into the bit again and she just kicked away. Riding for Kenny is easy and he didn’t really give a lot of instructions. When the gates opened, she put herself into a great spot.”
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Bonny South was well placed in a ground-saving fourth early, but found herself outpaced when Envoutante delivered the coup de grace. The favorite built up momentum down the lane to take second by an emphatic 3 1/2 lengths.
“She came with a run,” trainer Brad Cox said, “but there wasn’t much pace for her to close into.”
The 24-1 Another Broad fared best of the older brigade in third, replicating her result from the June 27 Fleur de Lis (G2) in her latest trip to Louisville. Our Super Freak faded to fourth, followed by Smooth with a Kick, Over Thinking, Market Rumor, and Cash Out. High Regard was scratched.
Scouted out by McPeek as a Keeneland September yearling, Envoutante was purchased for $250,000 by the partnership of Walking L Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm. The dark bay romped third time out at Gulfstream Park Apr. 2, tired to fourth in the May 2 Honey Ryder on turf, and rebounded back on dirt in a May 29 Churchill allowance to earn her way into graded company. The Falls City advanced her scorecard to 9-4-1-2, $336,028.
“She was 1-for-1 at Churchill coming into this race,” McPeek recapped. “We were very confident by the way she was working in the mornings and hoping she was going to put it together in the afternoon. She’s worked against Swiss Skydiver and has really done well in her training. She’s done a lot of traveling this year and got her graded stakes win in the Remington Oaks, so winning another one was very special.”
Envoutante was bred in Kentucky by Jumping Jack Racing. Her dam, the multiple stakes-placed Bluegrass Cat mare Enchante, is herself out of a mare by Arch. So is Envoutante’s sire, Uncle Mo, so she is inbred to Arch 3×3. This is the further family of champion and noted sire Forty Niner.