Making just his second start in 12 months and second since transferring to the barn of Gulfstream-based trainer Martin Wolfson, Falling Sky, the 9-5 second choice, was part of the early pace, as Diamond Racing’s Phish Phan, under Tyler Gaffalione, led the way through an opening quarter in 22.65 seconds. Falling Sky and Ledokol sat just off the leader through a 44.52-second half-mile, with the tandem of 8-5 favorite Grande Shores and Loooch Racing’s City of Weston another 3 ½ lengths behind.
Turning for home, Falling Sky, confidently handled by apprentice Harry Hernandez, who rode at the journeyman weight of 117 lbs, launched his bid and took command at the top of the stretch. Ledokol and Grande Shores tried to run the Grade 1-placed runner down but couldn’t get by; Falling Sky defeated Ledokol by a head, with Grande Shores another 1 ¾ length back in third.
“My trip was unbelievable,” said Hernandez, who with the win captured the second stakes victory of his young riding career. “I really had faith in this horse. The race was coming down to the wire, and I got nervous seeing the number four horse (Ledokol) come up, but as soon as I saw that I came in first on the video board, I was so happy.”
Prior to a yearlong layoff, Falling Sky won Parx’s Donald LeVine Memorial Handicap and finished third in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at Saratoga, but when returning in the Smile (G2), the 5-year-old was met with trouble from the start, as he broke through the gates before the race began. When re-breaking, he could not go with a quick pace set by eventual winner Favorite Tale. In the Trinniberg, he was a much fitter horse, covering the seven-furlong distance in 1:22.63. Wolfson said he expects even more in his charge’s next start.
“His next race will probably be a real strong race,” he said. “He hadn't run in almost a year. To run 1:09 and 1:22 [today], it was a good race for him. He's been working good. The first race was a throw-out and in this race he did what he needed to do."
Wolfson said a return trip to the Spa might be in the cards for Falling Sky next time out.
"I might take him to Saratoga,” he said. “I'm taking [recent winner of Gulfstream’s Monroe Handicap] Kiss to Remember for the Ballerina (G1). I might take him for the Forego (G1, on Aug. 29). I don't know yet."
Falling Sky returned $5.60 to win, while Ledokol paid $5.80 to place and Grande Shores paid $2.20 to show. City of Weston, Phish Phan, Taverni Bay and Casiguapo completed the order of finish.