05/03/2012 12:01PM

Churchill Downs: Aruna looks to bounce back in Distaff Turf Mile

Tom Keyser
Aruna will try to rebound in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A couple of hours before trainer Graham Motion attempts to capture his second consecutive Kentucky Derby with Went the Day Well, he’ll look to get his Grade 1 winner Aruna back to the winner’s circle against a very competitive and talent-laden field in the Grade 2, $200,000 Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs.

Aruna, who rallied to finish a wide-running second in the 2011 Distaff Mile, became a Grade 1 winner last fall when rallying to a half-length victory in Keeneland’s Spinster. She concluded the year finishing a troubled fifth, beaten just a length by Perfect Shirl, in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Aruna, a 5-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley, opened her current campaign finishing sixth and last while beaten less than four lengths in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Jenny Wiley.

“Her last race is a throw out. There was no pace and as a result two of the country’s top turf horses wound up finishing last and next to last,” Motion said referring to Aruna and Zagora. “I expect her to run much better on Saturday, although this is a very tough field.”

The Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile will reunite the first, third, fourth, and sixth finishers from the Jenny Wiley, a race won by the front-running Daisy Devine. Tapitsfly came off the first graded win of her career in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 2 Honey Fox to finish 1 1/2 lengths behind Daisy Devine, with Heavenly Landing another 1 3/4 lengths farther back in fourth.

Marketing Mix has won four of her last five starts, all for trainer Tom Proctor, with her lone defeat during that span a second-place finish last fall in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth Cup.

City to City, a multiple Grade 2 winner, has shipped in from the West Coast for trainer Jerry Holldendorfer.

Completing the lineup are Grade 2 winner Hungry Island, La Reine Lionne, who was graded stakes placed twice this winter at Gulfstream Park, Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf winner Hooh Why, Heavenly Landing, and Annabel Lee.