Heat Haze walked out of the gate, was dead last for most of the running, and then exploded down the stretch to circle the field and win the Citgo Distaff Turf Mile (gr. III) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
The winner is trained by Bobby Frankel, who will later on the day saddle Empire Maker in the Derby. Prince Khalid Abdullah, who owns both Heat Haze and Empire Maker, was in the winner's circle following the Turf Mile.
Heat Haze stood very still in the starting gate, then came out slow under Jose Valdivia. She was content to just sit and bide her time. When they swung out of the turn, she was widest of all and mowing them down, completing the mile in 1:33.96 on firm turf.
"I wasn't expecting her to break that slow. She went to sleep in there," said Valdivia. "But Bobby (Frankel) said whatever you do relax with her. He knows how good a filly she is. He said the break was a blessing in disguise. She was comfortable in the back and into the bit, so I didn't feel any need to rush. When I asked her she just exploded. She is a really nice filly."
A 4-year-old Green Desert filly, Heat Haze ran the mile on turf in 1:39.96. She returned $6.80, $4.20 and $3.60. Quick Tip ran second and returned $6.20 and $4.60. Sentimental Value was third at $5.80. The exacta paid $5.80.
French group I winner Dedication finished fourth, followed by Bag of Stars, Maliziosa, Presumed Innocent, Salty Farma, Pina Colada, Mimi's Tizzy, and Strait From Texas.
The winner was bred in England by Adullah's Juddmonte Farm. She is out of the Kahyasi mare Hasili.