Peter Brant’s Speak of the Devil (FR) made her U.S. debut a successful one by blowing past stablemate In Italian (GB) at the top of the stretch and draw off by 2 ¾ lengths to win the 37th running of the $500,000 Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (GII) for fillies and mares to kick off the stakes action on Kentucky Derby Day.
Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Flavien Prat, Speak of the Devil completed the mile on a firm Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:37.47. Brown and Prat teamed up to win the 2021 renewal of this race with Blowout (GB) and Brown also won in 2017 with Roca Rojo (IRE).
Speak of the Devil is a 5-year-old daughter of Wootton Bassett (GB) out of the Indian Rocket (GB) mare Moranda (FR). Now 15-6-3-2 for her career, Speak of the Devil added $306,900 to her bankroll that swelled to $604,576 with Saturday’s victory.
In Italian, also owned by Brant, raced out to an uncontested lead and led the field of six through fractions of :24.86 and :49.70 as Speak of the Devil raced at the rear of the pack.
Nearing the far turn, Prat moved Speak of the Devil off the rail and launched a five-wide move that carried her to even terms with In Italian at the top of the stretch from where she spurted clear.
Speak of the Devil returned $4.20, $3 and $2.20. In Italian (GB), ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., returned $3 and $2.20 and finished 3 lengths in front of Wakanaka (IRE) who finished third under Jose Ortiz and paid $2.80 to show.
Lady Speightspeare finished fourth and was followed in order by Flower Point and Abscond.
LONGINES CHURCHILL DISTAFF TURF MILE QUOTES
Flavien Prat (Jockey, Speak of the Devil, winner) – “I thought I was in some good holes, but for some reason she was not progressing down the backside. So I decided to drop down to the inside, and as soon as I called on her she cut really well. The track feels very good after all the rain.”
Irad Ortiz Jr. (Jockey, In Italian (GB), second) – “We got beat by a very nice filly. The plan was to go wire to wire, that’s how she likes to run. She is always the speed of the race; she doesn’t like to do anything different.”
Chad Brown (Trainer, winner and runner-up) – “So lucky to have this filly. She was turned her over to us last fall. Every week she kept getting better and indicated everything you want to see. You hate to run these fillies (In Italian ran second) against each other but really there’s not a lot of options out there at a mile right now, so we let them settle it on the racetrack and today Speak of the Devil was better.”