Mirabilis wins the Churchill Distaff.

Mirabilis wins the Churchill Distaff.

Jeffrey Snyder

Mirabilis Takes Churchill Distaff for 1st U.S. Win

Mirabilis had been close in all three of her starts since arriving in the United States from France. On Saturday at Churchill Downs, she did better than get close, winning the $115,200 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIIT) for her first win in a year.

The Juddmonte Farms homebred raced in France at 2 and 3 and was then shipped to California to Bobby Frankel. She started twice this year at Santa Anita, beaten a length in an optional claiming contest before running third, beaten less than a length, in the Buena Vista Handicap (gr. IIT). Then at Keeneland in the Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT), she was in a good spot but flattened out to finish third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Saturday's 11-10 favorite Wend.

In the Churchill Distaff, Patrick Valenzuela had the 4-year-old Lear Fan filly in good striking position in second or third behind pacesetting Sis City until she exploded from between rivals to the lead by 2 1/2 lengths at the furlong marker. Eased toward the wire by Valenzuela, she won by one length.

"I was happy just sitting behind the leaders and just kept my position," Valenzuela said. "She picked it up from there. Now, she doesn't have a long, sustained run, but for three-sixteenths of a mile she has a quick foot.

"She has a very good kick and she kept running through the stretch. She came into this race well, probably put on between 20 and 40 pounds since her last race at Keeneland. I had a ton of confidence in her."

Frankel credited Valenzuela with being patient with his move and recognizing that Wend was likely to have traffic trouble on the inside.

"She's a nice filly and now she's a graded stakes winner," Frankel said. "I'll probably take her up to New York, though I could bring her back down here if they have another race for her. I think a mile is just about her best distance."

Mirabilis, group I placed in her final start in France in the Prix de la Foret at Longchamp, won for the fourth time in 14 lifetime starts and increased her winnings to $260,369.

Special Grayce and Rafael Bejarano came from next-to-last early to finish second by a neck over More Than Promised.

Wend was also in a good spot sitting fourth on the hedge, but finished fourth when Edgar Prado forced her out for the stretch run. Lock and Key, Marchonin, May Gator, Sis City, Ready's Gal and Dash of Humor completed the order.

"I had the trip I wanted," Prado said of his ride aboard Wend, who had won back-to-back grades stakes this season. "I was sitting in behind the speed and saving ground and when the winner went, I tried to go with her. But my filly just didn't have her fire today. It wasn't there."

In her first race since Aug. 20, Sis City, winner of the Ashland (gr. I) last year and making her first start on the turf, pulled her way to the front and set early fractions of :24 2/5, :48 4/5 and 1:12 3/5 as Mirabillis and May Gator tracked her.

Mirabilis ran the mile distance in 1:35.99 and paid $12, $6, and $4.80. Special Grayce, at 28-1, returned $13 and $7.60, while More Than Promised, with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard, paid $6.40.

"At the quarter pole, she was really strong, but (Mirabilis) was too strong," Bejarano said of the runner-up Special Grayce. "One more furlong, though, and we would have caught her."

Bred at Khalid Abdullah's Kentucky farm, Mirabilis is out of the Lycius mare Media Nox.

(Chart, Equibase)