Falls City Stakes & Cardinal Stakes Recap

A memorable Thanksgiving card at Churchill Downs included the renewals of the Cardinal and Falls City Stakes.

In the Falls City Stakes all the pre-race focus was on Xigera. Victorious in both the 2023 Overnight Stakes and 2023 Mother Goose Stakes, she captured a third graded prize of the year as she waltzed to a five-length victory.

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The Cardinal Stakes was won by Star Fortress who produced a stunning late burst to win her American debut by ten lengths.

Falls City Stakes

Grade 3, 1 mile and an eighth, dirt, open to fillies & mares aged three and over. Total prize pool: $400,000

  1. Xigera -160
  2. Music Street +3000
  3. Jag Warrior +3000

Winning time: 1:50.75

Xigera confirmed her class as one of the best fillies in training as she won her fifth race of 2023 in dominant fashion.

Being drawn on the outside, things got off to a bumpy start as she stumbled upon leaving the stalls, but she recovered well to be in the front rank through the first few furlongs.

Tracking the early speed of Jag Warrior, Julian Leparoux had Xigera nicely positioned three places off the lead.

2023 Falls City Stakes Race Video

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Content to be pulled along, Leparoux and Xigera made their moves rounding the home turn and hit the finishing straight in the lead.

Despite others trying to close, Xigera had too much class for her rivals and as she hit the final furlong she pulled further and further clear. Hitting the line with a five-length lead, Music Street and Jag Warrior rounded off two big performances to claim second and third.

2023 Falls City Stakes Race Payouts

PositionHorseWinPlaceShow
1Xigera$2.30$2.20$2.10
2Music Street $11.56$9.76
3Jag Warrior  $8.98

Cardinal Stakes

Grade 3, 1 mile and an eighth, turf, open to fillies & mares aged three and over. Total prize pool $300,000

  1. Star Fortress +1200
  2. Saffron Moon +200
  3. Lovely Princess +300

Winning time: 1:51.10

Star Fortress pulled off the upset to land this year’s Cardinal Stakes in devastating fashion.

Making her first U.S start for Cherie DeVaux since leaving the UK, she looked a horse to keep on side as she routed the Cardinal field.

Keen to lead the field through the early stages was Walkathon. Ensuring that this year’s Cardinal Stakes would be run at a brisk pace, she was joined by the heavy race favorite Saffron Moon.

With not much to separate the two as they rounded the home turn, it was Saffron Moon who was travelling much the better and looked to have the race in her control.

As Saffron Moon hit the front, the eye was drawn to the back of the field where Star Fortress was starting to close like an express train.

Burning up the home straight, she drew level with Saffron Moon as the two hit the furlong pole.

With Saffron Moon starting to paddle, the race was over as Star Fortress stretched clear of her rival. Kept up to her work by Luis Saez, she sailed to the line with a ten-length advantage.

Saffron Moon was able to clinch second with Lovely Princess coming home in third.

2023 Cardinal Stakes Race Payouts

PositionHorseWinPlaceShow
1Star Fortress$14.68$5.40$3.48
2Saffron Moon $3.60$3.00
3Lovely Princess  $3.30

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