Riding a three-race win streak, the excellent filly Mia Mischief enters Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Winning Colors Stakes at Churchill Downs as the likely favorite. Along with eight other older fillies and mares, she will travel six furlongs.
Other than a low price, there is no strong reason to discount this mare.
For one, Mia Mischief is cycling back into top form. She lost three straight times after taking the Roxelana Stakes last summer over the eventual champion Covfefe.
But she also closed out her campaign with a five-length win in the Dream Supreme Stakes at Churchill. Upon her return in March, after selling at auction for $2.4 million but remaining with trainer Steve Asmussen, she won in allowance optional claiming company at Oaklawn Park.
That set up Mia Mischief to break through some mediocre speed figures in the latter half of 2019, posted a 118 on TimeformUS while capturing the April 25 Carousel Stakes, also at Oaklawn.
Visually, it is also a nice performance as Mia Mischief sat off the pacesetter Amy’s Challenge and took over at the top of the stretch. She won under mild handling with just a few left-handed taps.
Mia Mischief also took the Humana Distaff (G1) on this course one year ago, posting a career-high 125 TimeformUS Speed Figure. With two races this season under her belt, Mia Mischief could reach that 125 number again over a racetrack where she holds a 5-for-8 record.
Expect low odds on Mia Mischief this weekend. This mare’s presence is unavoidable on multi-race wagers, as this is a Grade 1-caliber runner.
For a second option, Break Even also deserves a look. She comes in with great form as well after winning an Oaklawn allowance optional claimer by three lengths.
In that April 18 victory, watch Joel Rosario on Break Even. At top of the stretch, he only gives the 4-year-old a mild hand ride at best.
Break Even did enjoy an uncontested lead. But the handling late is notable, as this is a tough filly to mow down when she gets her trip.
For the win, Break Even earned a 118 figure from TimeformUS, which ties Mia Mischief’s Carousel effort. She also earned a 120 last year in the Eight Belles Stakes (G2). Figure-wise, she is on par with the favorite.
But will Break Even get her trip? According to TimeformUS' Pace Projector, the only filly slated to give pressure is Take Charge Angel, who is a mild threat at most. When Take Charge Angel tried to chase Break Even in the Eight Belles, she folded and finished 47 ¼ lengths behind. Break Even can handle her presence.
You can also throw out Break Even’s flop off the bench in the Feb. 29 Spring Fever Stakes. She was hooked into a three-way speed duel and folded along with Mr. Brave and Artistic Diva.
Break Even retains Rosario's services and makes her third start off the bench for trainer Brad Cox. Mia Mischief is the most likely winner, but it is not hard to imagine Break Even slipping away with an uncontested lead and doing enough late. She's eligible to hit a new peak in the Winning Colors.
For a longshot to consider, Unique Factor is one filly who could surprise bettors.
On regular form alone, Unique Factor is not a threat to the top two. She lost her last three starts at the allowance optional claiming level at Oaklawn. Speed figure-wise, her three recent TimeformUS numbers of 104, 102 and 103 are slow relative to the Grade 3 level.
Unique Factor did switch to the Peter Miller barn, though, after the loss on May 1. Browsing through the charts, it looks like a change in ownership took place, too.
Miller might move up Unique Factor by several lengths. If not, then why would connections decide to take on Mia Mischief and Break Even rather than find a soft spot and get to know the filly more? He must know there is talent in this runner.
Unique Factor also gets a respected jockey in Florent Geroux on board. Admittedly, it is a stretch based on her recent starts. But past form becomes irrelevant sometimes when the horse switches barns.
If the multi-race wager allows for a B or C, Unique Factor fits that role.
The two fillies that deserve priority remain Mia Mischief and Break Even. While those two runners figure to go off as the favorite and second choice, they deserve their spots on the tote board based on class and speed.
In terms of value, Break Even is the better choice on top for exotics-type wagers, but both horses deserve the A slot in horizontals.