Mia Mischief got the jump on grade 1 winner Marley’s Freedom in the $500,000 Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) May 4 at Churchill Downs and pulled off an 11-1 upset in the first stakes race on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) undercard.
Flashing early speed for the first time since her near miss in the Longines Test Stakes (G1) last summer, Mia Mischief scored by 1 3/4 lengths Saturday after she put away Amy’s Challenge early and held off Marley’s Freedom late in the seven-furlong test.
Last year, after runner-up finishes in the Test Stakes and Prioress Stakes (G2), Mia Mischief finished off the board in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) to close the season. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen brought back the 4-year-old daughter of Into Mischief in a March allowance race at Oaklawn Park that she won by three lengths, and she followed that with a second in the Carousel Stakes there April 6.
Those two races served as a prep for Saturday’s grade 1 test at Churchill, where she won the Eight Belles Stakes Presented by Kentucky Trailer (G2) exactly a year ago at the same seven-furlong distance.
“It means so much with a filly who tries as hard as she does,” Asmussen said. “We felt really good about how she was coming into this race, how she was doing, knowing she has run so well over this racetrack.
“She’s doing really well, and this was our first major target of the year with her, and she came through.”
Campaigned by Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt, Heider Family Stables, and Madaket Stables, Mia Mischief flashed early speed she hadn’t displayed when third early in the two Oaklawn races and fifth early in the Filly and Mare Sprint.
With Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons, Mia Mischief engaged Amy’s Challenge, and those two were heads apart through a quarter-mile in :22.7. They continued that battle through a half-mile in :45.02. Mia Mischief took command entering the stretch and opened a 2 1/2-length advantage by midstretch, never really threatened by the late run from Marley’s Freedom.