Mia Mischief Wins Humana Distaff with Rapid Mid-Race Move

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 6th, 2019

Mia Mischief has always shown talent, but on racing’s biggest days she’s had trouble delivering on her potential.

But everything changed on Kentucky Derby Day, when Mia Mischief delivered a dominant victory in the $500,000 Humana Distaff (G1) going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs, the first top-level win of her career. Considering the manner in which she prevailed, additional grade 1 wins could well be in her future.

Disregarded by bettors as an 11-1 longshot, following a defeat in the listed Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, Mia Mischief seemed to relish the return to Churchill Downs, where she won the seven-furlong Eight Belle Stakes (G2) on Kentucky Oaks Day in 2017. With Ricardo Santana Jr. in the saddle for trainer Steve Asmussen, Mia Mischief pressed early leader Amy’s Challenge through accelerating fractions of :22.70 and :45.02, with the pair pulling four lengths clear of their closest pursuers.

At that point Mia Mischief delivered the winning move, blitzing the third quarter-mile in :23.22 to leave Amy’s Challenge in her wake and secure to a 2 1/2-length lead. The advantage proved insurmountable, as favored Marley’s Freedom unleashed a mild late rally as Mia Mischief understandably weakened through a final furlong in :13.54, but Mia Mischief was never in danger of being caught and cruised to the finish line in 1:21.78. Amy’s Challenge held to finish third.

From a handicapping perspective it’s worth noting that Mia Mischief received a generally favorable setup. She enjoyed a clean trip pressing a modest opening quarter-mile fraction, leaving her with plenty in the tank for the middle portion of the race.

But give Mia Mischief credit for fully capitalizing on her advantage. Her :45.54 internal half-mile blew the race wide open, leaving the grade 1-placed Amy’s Challenge with no response, and even Marley’s Freedom—a five-time graded stakes winner—couldn’t match the move and lost ground during the middle portion of the race.

Considering the Humana Distaff was Mia Mischief’s first run of the season over a dry track, it’s possible we’re only now seeing how fast this maturing 4-year-old filly is capable of running.  She showed potential at the grade 1 level in 2018, placing second by a neck in the Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, and while her past performances suggest she doesn’t relish being involved in truly fast-paced races, there will be occasions—like the Humana Distaff—when Mia Mischief finds her comfort zone and makes her rivals pay.