There is only one Breeders’ Cup race coming up that is likely to have three champions lining up to face each other, and that is the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) and it’s about time the race is shifted to Saturday.
The Distaff is one of four Breeders’ Cup races to be contested on Friday, Nov. 4, telecast by the NBC Sports Network. It is time for more eyeballs to see the best of the female division on NBC on Saturday afternoon by placing it before the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
It makes a lot of sense to move the Distaff to Saturday, and perhaps move either the Turf Sprint or Filly & Mare Sprint to Friday.
This year’s Distaff will include three champions from last year—Songbird, Stellar Wind and Beholder.
Songbird, last year’s Eclipse award winner for top juvenile filly will come into the Distaff perfect in 11 career starts after winning the Cotillion (G1) last Saturday at Parx Racing.
Stellar Wind is last year’s Eclipse Award winner for top three-year-old filly and beat Beholder in her last outing in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1) at Del Mar on July 30. She was beaten just a neck in last year’s Distaff by Stopchargingmaria.
She makes her final prep for the Distaff in the $300,000 Zenyatta (G1) on Saturday at Santa Anita.
Beholder is a three-time Eclipse Award winner and looks to become the first horse in history to win three Breeders’ Cup races on dirt.
The brilliant mare won the 2012 Juvenile Fillies and 2013 Distaff. She has won three Eclipse Awards and could make it four with a victory in this year’s Distaff.
She looked headed toward taking on the boys in the Classic, but defeats in the Hirsch to Stellar Wind and California Chrome in the Pacific Classic and it looks as if she will go in the Distaff.
She has won 13 of her 14 career starts over the Santa Anita main track and will make her final prep in the Zenyatta, a race she has won three times.
The supporting cast for the Distaff is a good one. Cavorting will come into the Distaff riding a three race winning streak, winning the Ruffian (G2), Ogden Phipps (G1) and the Personal Ensign (G1). That type of year typically would make her a favorite, but this year she is going to end up getting overlooked in the betting.
Cathryn Sophia was no match for Songbird in the Cotillion, but still deserves some respect as this year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner.
Carina Mia ran second to Songbird in the Cotillion, beaten 5 ¾ lengths. She has won twice this year, taking the Eight Belles (G2) and the Acorn (G1).
Curalina won a pair of Grade 1 races last year and ran third in the Distaff. This year she has won twice, taking the La Troien (G1) and Shuvee Handicap (G3). She probably will train up to the Distaff this year.
A big performance by a filly or mare in either the $400,000 Beldame (G1) this Saturday at Belmont Park or the $500,000 Spinster at Keeneland on Oct. 9 could make the Distaff even more interesting.
Since the Breeders’ Cup went to a two-day format in 2007, the Distaff has been run on Friday and those having those pesky Monday through Friday jobs might have missed performances by Zenyatta, Royal Delta (twice), Beholder and Untapable.
It’s past time for the Breeders’ Cup to move the Distaff to Saturday or at the very least supply horseplayers with doctor’s notes so they can call in sick on Friday.
Get Michael’s Best Plays Report each Saturday which will include all of the U.S. based Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races from now to Oct. 12 and Michael Dempsey’s 2-Day Breeders’ Cup Report.
Michael’s two day Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the two-day championship event from Santa Anita on Nov. 4-5.