Updated on 05/03/2014 9:53AM

Humana Distaff stiffer test for Judy the Beauty

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Judy the Beauty won last month's Madison on Polytrack at Keeneland, but trainer Wesley Ward is confident she likes dirt even better.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Having ended the Grade 1 drought for both herself and her trainer, Judy the Beauty will look to make it two in a row Saturday when she heads a field of six in the Grade 1, $300,000 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs.

Eight horses were originally entered in the Humana Distaff, but Heart Stealer (5-1) and Saturday Nthe Park (20-1) were scratched Saturday morning.

Heart Stealer, the winner of the Grade 2 Inside Information in her most recent start, has a small injury to her right front foot, according to trainer Marty Wolfson. Saturday Nthe Park looked a bit overmatched in this field on paper.

In her fifth attempt Grade 1 attempt, Judy the Beauty won the Madison on April 12 at Keeneland, giving trainer Wesley Ward his first North American Grade 1 victory. It was the seventh career victory for Judy the Beauty, five of which have come over synthetic surfaces. In seven dirt races, Judy the Beauty has one win and six seconds, including a 4 3/4-length score in the Grade 3 Las Flores at Santa Anita on March 9.

“I really think dirt is her preferred surface,” said Ward, who also owns Judy the Beauty. “When I train her at Saratoga and I train her at Aqueduct, that’s where her best works have been. She was beaten at Churchill, so I’m not certain about the surface at Churchill.”

Despite running Judy the Beauty back in three weeks, Ward is certain his filly is coming into the Humana Distaff in excellent shape.

“It was really an easy race on her,” Ward said. “She came out of the race awesome.”

John Velazquez will ride Judy the Beauty, the 123-pound highweight, from post 3.

The competition in the Humana Distaff is sterner than it was in the Madison.

Midnight Lucky, the winner of the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont last May, makes her first start since then for trainer Bob Baffert. In four career starts, she has only lost once, that being a fifth-place finish over this track last year in the Kentucky Oaks at 1 1/8 miles.

“I look back, she wasn’t ready for the Oaks,” Baffert said. “She was pretty fast, and she got to running pretty fast with Beholder. I’m just glad to have her back in.”

Baffert said he stopped on Midnight Lucky after the Acorn because she wasn’t doing that well when he got her to Del Mar last summer. Midnight Lucky shows a solid work tab for her return.

Rosie Napravnik rides Midnight Lucky from the outside post.

Scherzinger and Iotapa, graded stakes winners in Southern California this winter, have come east for this seven-furlong race.

Scherzinger, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, beat Iotapa in the Grade 2 Santa Monica in her last start Jan. 25, her fourth victory in her last five starts. Her only loss in that span came on turf.

Iotapa won the Santa Maria at 1 1/16 miles and was second in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita at nine furlongs but now cuts back to a sprint distance.

“Seven-eighths is a good distance for her,” trainer John Sadler said. “The one time Sherzinger beat her, she didn’t have a great trip. Her form is her form – she’s 1-2 every time.”

Speedinthruthecity has won four of her last five starts, including both her races at Oaklawn Park this year, but is stepping up in class for trainer Steve Asmussen.

“It’s a great opportunity for a filly that we feel has improved a great deal with age,” Asmussen said. “She’s just a different mare at 4 than she was at 3.”

Street Girl, winless in eight starts since taking the off-the-turf Calder Oaks 13 months ago, completes the field.

Judy Maass Gadwood More than 1 year ago
Love you Judy! Go get another win!!
jttf More than 1 year ago
i think judy could go undefeated this year.
James Pugliese More than 1 year ago
Heart Stealers best distance!
Jaime Dubyna More than 1 year ago