How to Bet the Humana Distaff

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 3rd, 2018

Just how competitive is Saturday’s $300,000 Humana Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs?

Well, if the morning line odds are any indication, it’s one of the toughest races on the card. Six of the eight entrants in this seven-furlong sprint are listed between 3-1 and 5-1, so if you can hit the exotics, you’re going to be rewarded.

One of the key players in my opinion is #1 Finley’sluckycharm, who was absolutely dead game winning the Madison Stakes (gr. I) going seven furlongs at Keeneland last month, battling for the lead through fractions of :21.96 and :44.31 before holding on to win by a nose in a four-horse photo finish. So destructive was the early pace that RacingFlow.com assigned the race a Closer Favorability Ratio of 100, placing it in the top 1% of races favoring late runners.

Under the circumstances, Finley’sluckycharm had no business winning the Madison Stakes, especially while racing wide on the turn. Throw in the fact that she is a perfect 6-for-6 at Churchill Downs, and I think she looms as the most likely winner of the Humana Distaff.

For the exotics, I’ll lean against the late-running pair of #2 Salty and #5 Lewis Bay, who fell short in the Madison despite the favorable setup. Instead, I’ll focus on #3 Ivy Bell and #8 American Gal. Ivy Bell has come a long way over the last couple of years and fired off a career-best run in the March 17th Inside Information Stakes (gr. II) going seven furlongs at Gulfstream Park, settling behind a slow pace before running by the leaders to win by a length. That race marked Ivy Bell’s first start for trainer Todd Pletcher, and I’m expecting another sharp performance on Saturday. Don’t forget, she finished a good second behind Finley’sluckycharm in the Chicago Handicap (gr. III) over this track and distance last summer.

As for American Gal, she was beaten just a neck in the Madison after dueling for the lead with Finley’sluckycharm. That was her first run since winning the Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga last summer, and if she can avoid getting involved in another duel with Finley’sluckycharm, American Gal should be a major player to finish in the exotics.

Since this is a tough race to narrow down, let’s box Finley’sluckycharm, Ivy Bell, and American Gal in the exacta while hoping to keep the short-priced pair of Salty and Lewis Bay out of the top two:

$5 exacta: 1,3,8 with 1,3,8 ($30)

Good luck!