With her days as a race mare numbered, grade I winner Awesome Humor is looking to go out a winner when she takes the gate for Saturday's $200,000 Churchill Downs Distaff (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. If all goes well in the Distaff trainer Elliott Walden expects her to wrap up her career in Churchill Downs' $300,000 Falls City Handicap (gr. II) on Thanksgiving Day before joining the broodmare band at Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt's WinStar Farm near Versailles, Ky.
One concern in Saturday's Distaff is the one-turn mile distance. Awesome Humor's only race at a one-turn distance this year was her poor effort in her season debut.
"I think she's probably developed to be a little better around two turns," said Walden. "This is the race that's here, it's a grade II and she's doing well. We sharpened her up the other day with a sharp half (mile work) and I don' think the mile will be any problem. I'm looking forward to it.
"I think probably that she's one of my top two or three fillies that I've trained -- just because of her consistency. She shows up every time and I don't think Saturday will be any different."
The daughter of Distorted Humor won all four of her races at two - including the Spinaway (gr. I) and the Debutante (gr. III). Her juvenile campaign ended prematurely after the Spinaway in late August when she underwent surgery to remove chips from both front ankles.
She did not return to competition until mid-May of this year, when she ran fourth in a six-furlong optional claiming allowance race at Churchill Downs. But she has carved out a record of 2-3-0 in five races since that lone poor outing -- including a recent win in the Indiana Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. III) at Hoosier Park and runner-up finishes in the Alabama (gr. I), Delaware Oaks (gr. III), and Turfway Park Breeders' Cup (gr. III).
While her campaign has not reached the heights of her stellar juvenile campaign, Walden is hesitant to say that Awesome Humor's surgery was a significant factor.
"We're talking about such slight degrees that make the difference in winning and losing," he said. "I think that probably it affected her just a little bit, but it could be a number of factors. It could be that she was just a very precocious 2-year-old and they caught up to her, so to speak, at three. Whenever you win six out of 10 starts and have been first or second in 10 out of 11, I'll take those all day long."