Ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Shug McGaughey, Hungry Island was fifth early in the field of seven as Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IT) winner Daisy Devine, Tapitsfly, and 3-2 favorite Marketing Mix made the early running. Daisy Devine, leading by one length, got the first quarter on a turf course labeled good in :24.78 and half in :48.68. As the field raced into the stretch, 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Tapitsfly took over as the leaders began to back up.
Racing in mid-track, Hungry Island began a steady advance on Tapitsfly, continuing on gamely to wear down the leader. Hungry Island put her rival away in the closing strides after switching to her left lead. The final time for a mile on grass was 1:36.20.
The winner, a 4-year-old filly by More Than Ready , returned $13.80, $6.40, and $4.60. Tapitsfly held second by 1 1/2 lengths, paying $6 and $3.80. La Reine Lionne, after hopping at the break, closed for third at $5. The rest of the order was completed by Marketing Mix, Daisy Devine, Heavenly Landing, and City to City. Aruna, Annabel Lee, and Hooh Why were scratched.
The victory was the first in five starts for Hungry Island since winning the Lake Placid Stakes (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course last August. Previous to the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile, the filly produced from the A.P. Indy mare Flying Passage was a close third to Marketing Mix in a one-mile turf allowance race at Keeneland in her first start of 2012.
"I don't think she needed (her last race at Keeneland)," McGaughey said. "Johnny (Velazquez) had never ridden her before, and there was some stuff going on in the race. He felt like he needed to get out of it or he would be carried wide, but probably moved just a little too soon on her.
"I think knowing her today, he just waited, and once he asked her, it was over with."
Trainer Dale Romans said Tapitsfly had no excuses for her second-place finish. "She ran a fine race," he said. "This track crew knows what its doing. The turf course is in amazing shape for as much rain as we got."
A winner of five of 12 starts, with six placings, Hungry Island has won $390,770.