Sharpened off a season debut that saw her finish a close fourth in the Madison Stakes (G1) at Keeneland, American Gal registered a two-length victory May 5 in the $300,000 Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs.
With a light mist in Louisville, the early races on Saturday's card were run on a track listed as fast. But a downpour arrived before the Humana Distaff, which resulted in a wet fast (sealed) track for the seven fillies and mares.
The seven-furlong test marked the first start on an off track for the Southern California-based American Gal, but she handled the muddy surface well to secure her second grade 1 victory.
"She'd never run on a surface like this before, but she's a very talented filly and handled it," winning trainer Simon Callaghan said of the 4-year-old daughter of Concord Point.
Madison winner Finley'sluckycharm, who boasted an unbeaten record in six previous Churchill starts, broke from the rail as the 5-2 choice. She was engaged by American Gal, who broke from the outside under Jose Ortiz. American Gal led through a quarter-mile in :23.03 but was pressed by Finley'sluckycharm into the turn.
After Finley'sluckycharm's half-mile in :45.63, American Gal seized the lead in the turn and never relinquished it. Grade 2 winner Ivy Bell, who stalked in the four path early, mounted a bit of a challenge, but American Gal held sway and completed the race in 1:22.33.
"I didn't want anybody putting pressure on me early on the outside, so I stayed as wide as I could on the backside," Ortiz said of racing in the five or six path early.
American Gal, a Kaleem Shah homebred, closed out her 3-year-old season with a four-length victory in the Longines Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course. She returned April 7 in the Madison, where she came in just a head behind the winner. The Madison field also included Lewis Bay, who finished third in that race and Saturday's.
"We've definitely seen a good progression out of the last race," Callaghan said. "Plus, being on the outside today. Last time we got sort of a tough trip with a lot of horses on her outside. This time we were on the outside and had a better trip."
The winner returned $7.80, $4.40, and $3.20. Ivy Bell paid $4.60 and $3.40. Lewis Bay paid $2.80 to show.
American Gal improved her record to 5-1-1 in eight starts, with $904,980 in earnings.