05/06/2006 12:00AM

Distaff Turf Mile: Mirabilis blossoms

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Mirabilis, with Patrick Valenzuela riding, gets her first U.S. stakes victory in Saturday's Distaff Turf Mile.

Mirabilis perched right on the cusp of a big win in her first two U.S. stakes starts, and Saturday at Churchill she broke through with a clear victory in the Grade 3, $115,100 .

The weather might have helped her. Trainer Bobby Frankel said Mirabilis seems to have bloomed since shipping into the Kentucky spring in April. When she finished third in the Jenny Wiley last month at Keeneland, Mirabilis hadn't raced in a couple of months, and in the Distaff Turf Mile, Patrick Valenzuela gave her a perfect trip pressing a slow pace. But what might have helped Mirabilis most of all was the failure of the even-money favorite, Wend, to show her best. Wend had won the Jenny Wiley by 1 1/2 lengths, and was clearly the horse to beat Saturday, but Wend was bottled up on the inside the whole way around, and she failed to accelerate adequately when Edgar Prado found room at the top of the stretch.

"I had the spot, but she didn't punch in, you know," Prado said.

Mirabilis punched, beating longshot Special Grayce by one length, with More Than Promised another neck back in third and a half-length ahead of Wend.

"I knew if the favorite came back a little and I came up a little, I'd have a chance," said Frankel, who trains Mirabilis for Juddmonte Farms.

Mirabilis, Group 1-placed in France, paid $12 to win, getting the mile on firm turf in 1:35.93.

Mirabilis made her U.S. debut in January, finishing fourth in a sprint allowance race, and had been a close third in the Buena Vista some two months before her race in the Jenny Wiley.

"I don't know what it was, but she's just looked like a better horse since she came here," Frankel said.

And better was good enough.