LOUISVILLE, KY – Kaleem Shah’s homebred American Gal refused to be beat this time, clearing off in the stretch and holding firm to take Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Humana Distaff Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Breaking outward from the far outside post under Jose Ortiz, American Gal settled and took joint command along the outside of the 5-2 favorite Finley’sluckycharm through opening splits of :23.03 and :45.63. Exiting the far turn, American Gal dispatched of her foe and kicked away in front of the crowded grandstands, hitting the wire first by 2 lengths in a final time of 1:22.33 for the 7-furlong sprint over the muddy main track.
“She broke a little bit to the outside, but she is very quick, she recovered very well,” Ortiz said. “And I just sat there in the sixth, fifth path. I didn’t want anybody putting pressure on me early on the outside, so I stayed as wide as I could on the backside. And then we passed the 3/8 pole, going to the 1/4 pole, I tried to engage Finley’sluckycharm, but I think last time, he (jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr.) was outside putting pressure on me, and today, I was outside putting pressure on him and that was the difference from last time to this time. And it worked out for him last time and it worked out for me this time.”
Ivy Bell set a stalking trip before making a bid down the stretch but flattened and settled for second. Lewis Bay was bumped at the start when Skye Diamonds broke outward, then couldn’t hold off Ivy Bell in the stretch and took third. Finley’sluckycharm faded in the stretch and crossed fourth, her first career loss in the state of Kentucky. Torrent, Skye Diamonds, and Miner’s Cat completed the order of finish. Salty was scratched, having entered and won yesterday’s Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes.
American Gal’s win improved her record to 8-5-1-1 with career earnings of $904,980 for trainer Simon Callaghan. The 4-year-old daughter of Concord Point made her 2018 debut last out in the Grade 1 Madison at Keeneland, finishing fourth by only a neck in an exciting photo finish.
“When you’re on the outside, you have more options, and she got the most comfortable trip, and she’s a very good filly,” Callaghan said. “We were concerned because she’s never really run on an off-track before, but she’s just got such a good disposition, such a talented filly, she can go in anything. We’ve definitely seen a good progression out of the last race.”
American Gal returned $7.80 to win, $4.40 to place, and $3.20 to show. Ivy Bell brought back $4.60 to place and $3.40 to show, while Lewis Bay paid $2.80 to show.