Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman's Midnight Lucky, making her first start in more than 11 months, took the lead out of the gate and scored a dominating 4 ½-length victory over Street Girl in the 28th running of the $330,600 Humana Distaff (Grade I) for fillies and mares, the first of three Grade 1 stakes on Kentucky Derby Day.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Rosie Napravnik, Midnight Lucky ran the seven furlongs on a fast main track in 1:22.23. It was the second victory in the race for Baffert who trained Pussycat Doll to win the 2006 renewal for Pegram.
Midnight Lucky quickly established a daylight advantage over millionaire Judy the Beauty and led the field through fractions of :22.74 and :45.04. At the head of the stretch, Midnight Lucky shook off a challenge from Judy the Beauty and drew away.
The victory was worth $202,922 and improved Midnight Lucky's earnings to $565,022 with a record of 5-4-0-0. Her lone loss came in last year's Kentucky Oaks (GI) when she finished fifth.
Midnight Lucky is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Midnight Lute out of the Citidancer mare Citiview.
Midnight Lucky returned $5.20, $4 and $3. Street Girl, ridden by Julien leparoux, returned $13.80 and $5.40 and finished a half-length in front of Scherzinger, who paid $3.80 to show under Mike Smith.
Judy the Beauty finished another length back in fourth and was followed by Speedinthruthecity and Iotapa.
HUMANA DISTAFF QUOTES
Rosie Napravnik, rider of Midnight Lucky (winner) – "She broke out wonderfully. Coming from the outside, I was able to take my time getting into position. I was always comfortable. Coming off a year's layoff, she's just as good as she was."
Bob Baffert, trainer of Midnight Lucky (winner) – "She's a great filly; a great filly. I wasn't concerned about putting her in a race like this off the layoff (her last race was more than 11 months ago). 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."
Julien Leparoux , rider of Street Girl (second) – "We got second best. The winner is a good filly. My filly, she was doing very good in the morning and I was expecting her to show up, and she did. She ran a big race and we are pleased with it."
Mike Smith, rider of Scherzinger (third) – "In the beginning we got knocked around a bit pretty good, but other than that, she ran really well."
John Velazquez, rider of favored Judy the Beauty (fourth) – "She just didn't come up with anything today. We had a great post position and ... (she was) empty. The trainer (Wesley Ward) said last week "I hate to run three weeks, but I guess I'd better run her.' She worked really well."
Wesley Ward, owner-trainer of favored Judy the Beauty (fourth) – "I went against my better judgment in running her back in three weeks. I should have stayed with the original plan (which was the Ballerina in August at Saratoga)."
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