Jose Ortiz gives thanks after riding American Gal to victory in the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs

Jose Ortiz gives thanks after riding American Gal to victory in the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs

Ryan Thompson

Mud No Problem for American Gal in Humana Distaff

Daughter of Concord Point earned her second grade 1 win.

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.

American Gal is a Kentucky-bred out of grade 2-placed American Story, by Ghostzapper . American Story has also produced grade 2-placed stakes winner Americanize, a full brother to American Gal.

Video: Humana Distaff S. (G1)