05/17/2012 11:14AM

Churchill Downs: Distorted Love back where she runs best

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Heading into May of last year, Distorted Love had nothing more than a maiden win to her credit, and a 1-for-18 record at that.

Twelve months later, her form is far superior, having added two more wins and two stakes placings, including a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails at Hawthorne on April 21.

Those achievements suggest another top effort is forthcoming Saturday at Churchill Downs in the 10th race against fellow stakes-quality runners It’s Tea Time and Afleeting Lady in a $60,600, third-level allowance that also carries an $80,000 claiming condition.

In addition to her fine recent effort in the Sixty Sails, in which Distorted Love ran a career-best 89 Beyer Speed Figure, the return to the Churchill Downs main track further points toward a strong performance. She is 3 for 7 on dirt at Churchill, compared with 0 for 23 on all other track surfaces.

“She just likes this track, has always liked it here,” said Helen Pitts, who began training Distorted Love early last year. “When she got up from Fair Grounds she had two awesome works here, and I think that’s why she went to Hawthorne and ran so well in the Sixty Sails. When she’s here, her whole attitude is different.”

Miguel Mena rides for owner A D K Racing LLC.

Late-running Distorted Love will likely have to catch Afleeting Lady if she is to score her fourth victory underneath the Twin Spires. Afleeting Lady, second in the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap last fall at Churchill Downs, has a stalking style that may allow her to get the jump on late-running Distorted Love.

Returning from a layoff of 5 1/2 months on May 4, she disappointed with a distant fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 La Troienne Stakes on the Kentucky Oaks undercard in a race she likely needed to regain fitness.

Jesus Castanon rides Afleeting Lady, the 8-5 morning-line favorite.

It’s Tea Time, off form this year, also has the class to challenge with a return to her best. Although more experienced racing on Polytrack and turf, she has run well in graded stakes company at Churchill, finishing third in the Falls City last year, and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic in 2010