Saturday, May 04, 2024

Vahva became Gun Runner’s ninth Grade 1 winner and 10th millionaire with her victory in the $1 million Derby City Distaff S. (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs.

She would be the first of two Grade 1 winners at Churchill Downs Saturday, with Gun Pilot winning the $1 million Churchill Downs S. (G1) later in the afternoon.

In the Distaff, Vahva turned the tables on Alva Starr, who narrowly bested her last month at Keeneland in the Madison S. (G1). Longshot Spirit Wind set the early pace on Saturday, with Alva Starr a close second, and Vahva two lengths back in third. Alva Starr took the lead turning for home, but Vahva was rolling on the outside and overtook Alva Starr with just inside a furlong to go. Vahva was strong to the wire and won by two lengths in 1:21.75 for the seven furlongs on a fast track.

“That was an unbelievable performance to win a Grade One on this type of stage is so special,” said winning trainer Cherie DeVaux. “It’s really hard to describe. I’m just so happy with everyone involved with this horse and our team.”

Vahva is owned by the conglomerate of Belladonna Racing, LLC, Edward J. Hudson, Jr., West Point Thoroughbreds, LBD Stable LLC, Nice Guys Stables, Manganaro Bloodstock, Runnels Racing, Steve Hornstock and Twin Brook Stables. Saturday’s big payday upped the 4-year-old filly’s earnings to $1,578,310 and record to 5-3-2 in 12 starts.

The winner was bred by Woodford Thoroughbreds LLC and sold for $280,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September Yearling sale.