Roaring from well off the pace, Jerry Romans’ Sassy Image came down the center of the Churchill Downs strip to win the $345,600 Humana Distaff Stakes (gr. I) (VIDEO) going away by three lengths over 3-5 favorite Hilda's Passion May 7.
Sassy Image, the 16-1 rank outsider in the seven horse field, covered the seven furlongs in a crisp 1:20.01 to win for the fourth time in five starts on Churchill's main track.
Hilda’s Passion, winner of back-to-back graded stakes at Gulfstream, grabbed the early lead and carved out solid splits of :22.68 and :44.68 over a fast track that is slightly damp from a few light showers earlier in the day. Hilda’s Passion, ridden by Javier Castellano, was tracked by Tidal Pool and Twelve Twenty Two. On the turn, Twelve Twenty Too beat a hasty retreat leaving the other two to battle at the head of the lane.
Sassy Image, with Robby Albarado aboard, rallied while six wide on the turn and caught the leaders leaving the eight pole after six furlongs in a quick 1:08.54. She cruised home for the grade I victory.
"It was a great setup," Albarado said. "We had enough pace up front of us to give her some room to clear them turning for home. Running from the outside, she just did all the work."
Romans’ brother, Dale, trains the winning 4-year-old filly.
"She loves it here; she loves Churchill," Dale Romans said. "She just loves the surface. Robby rode her perfect. The race was quick enough up front that it set up just right for us. When he took her off the turn, she just exploded."
Winner of the Pocahontas (gr. III) and Golden Rod (gr. II) stakes over the strip in November 2009, Sassy Image came into the Humana Distaff off two starts this winter at Gulfstream Park. On Jan. 14 she ran second, beaten a length, in an optional claiming allowance race at a mile and followed that up with a seventh-place finish in the one-mile Sabin Stakes (gr. III).
By Broken Vow , Sassy Image is out of the Hennessy mare Ideal Image. She was bred in Kentucky by J C Davis Farm and was a $42,000 sale at the 2008 Kentucky September yearling sale.
Sassy Image earned $209,986 for her fifth lifetime win in 12 starts to boost her bankroll to $532,355.
The winner paid $34.20, $9.40, and $4.80. Hilda’s Passion paid $2.60 and $20. Amen Hallelujah, who finished three quarters of a length behind the runner-up with John Velazquez aboard, paid $3 to show. The 1-7 exacta paid $100.40.
"We were going fast, yes, but she always does that," said Javier Castellano, rider of Hilda's Passion. "She's just a speed horse who gives you everything she's got the whole way. Today, we didn't win, but she ran good."