HUMANA DISTAFF S. | PURSE: $300,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | FILLIES & MARES | GRADE 1 | 7 FURLONGS
Two days after their colt Hoppertunity was forced to scratch from Saturday's Kentucky Derby, owners Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman found some reason to cheer as their four-year-old filly Midnight Lucky turned in scintillating effort in the Grade 1, $330,600 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs.
Unraced since capturing the Acorn at Belmont Park last Memorial Day, the four-year-old gray burst out of the gate running in the seven-furlong dash. Holding a minor advantage over 6-5 favorite Judy the Beauty and Iotapa while setting fractions of :22 ⅗ seconds and :45 seconds, Midnight Lucky kicked clear of those rivals at the top of the stretch and drew off to win by 4 ½ lengths under Rosie Napravnik in a time of 1:22 ⅕ over a fast track.
"Coming off a year's layoff, she's just as good as she was," Napravnik said.
The 8-5 second choice in a field of six fillies and mares, Midnight Lucky paid $5.20.
Street Girl, the 21-1 longest shot, rallied up the inside for second, a half-length ahead of California shipper Scherzinger. Judy the Beauty faded to fourth and was followed by Speedinthruthecity and Iotapa. Heart Stealer and Saturday Nthe Park were scratched.
This was the fourth win in five starts for Midnight Lucky, who has now earned $565,022. She won on debut at Santa Anita by 7 ¼ lengths going 6 ½ furlongs last February, and then captured the 1 1/16-mile Sunland Park Oaks by eight lengths. Prior to her 6 ¼-length romp in the one-mile Acorn, Midnight Lucky suffered her only loss to date in the Kentucky Oaks, where she faded to fifth after setting the pace.
"She's a great filly; a great filly," trainer Bob Baffert said. "I wasn't concerned about putting her in a race like this off the layoff. She's that kind. I know she can run on, but I'm going to keep her under a mile. That's where she's really good.
"I don't know what I'll do with her next, but the aim is to have her ready for the seven-eighths [$1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita]. Going a mile or less, this filly is as good as any I have ever had."
A $220,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling, Midnight Lucky was produced by the Citidancer mare Citiview, who has also reared the multiple stakes-placed Songofthecity. Citiview is herself a full sister to Grade 1 winner Hookedonthefeelin, the dam of Grade 1 winners Pussycat Doll and Jimmy Creed, as well as stakes winner Funny Feeling.