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The Breeders' Cup Distaff brings together the best female dirt horses for a championship showdown at 1 1/8 miles on the main track. This race was won by the great Zenyatta at Santa Anita in 2008.
|Distance:||1 1/8 Miles||Age:||3+|
The Breeders' Cup Distaff (formerly Ladies Classic) is a Weight for Age Thoroughbred horse race for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up. Known as the Breeders' Cup Distaff from its inception in 1984 through 2007, it is held annually at a different racetrack in the United States or Canada as part of the Breeders' Cup thoroughbred championships.
As powerful as Knicks Go has been in the Classic division, St. George Stable's homebred Letruska has been the dominant older female of 2021, and headlines the $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) at 1 1/8 miles. Trained by Fausto Gutierrez, the 5-year-old mare has won six of seven starts this year, four of those being Breeders' Cup Challenge Series races, taking the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park, the Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs, the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga, and the Juddmonte Spinster (G1) Keeneland on Oct. 10. Back in April, Letruska signaled great things to come when she defeated two-time Distaff winner Monomoy Girl in the Apple Blossom (G1) at Oaklawn.Among the challengers to Letruska is Shadwell Stable's Malathaat. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Malathaat has been the top 3-year-old filly this year, taking the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs and the Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 21, which was her most recent start. Qatar Racing Limited, Flurry Racing Stables, and Big Aut Farms' Shedaresthedevil earned her free berth into the Distaff by taking the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar in August for trainer Brad Cox.
Baoma Corporation's Private Mission has won all three of her starts this year, and grabbed a free entry into the race when she won the Zenyatta Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita for trainer Bob Baffert. W.S. Farish's Royal Flag, trained by Chad Brown, finished third to Letruska in the Personal Ensign, but came back to win the Beldame Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park by 4 ¼ lengths on Oct. 10.
Among the international challengers pre-entered for the Distaff are Pozo De Luna's Blue Stripe (ARG), who took the "Win and You're In" Gran Premio Criadores (G1) at Palermo in Argentina, and U Carrot Farm's Marche Lorraine (JPN), who won four races in Japan this year, including the Breeders' Gold Cup at Mombetsu in August for trainer Yoshito Yahagi.
Race 10 at Del Mar on Saturday, November 6 - Post 7:00 PM
|1||Private Mission||8-1||Flavien Prat
|2||Royal Flag||8-1||Joel Rosario
|4||Blue Stripe (ARG)||30-1||Lanfranco Dettori
|5||Clairiere||12-1||Ricardo Santana, Jr.
|6||Letruska||8-5||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|9||As Time Goes By||15-1||Luis Saez
|10||Marche Lorraine (JPN)||30-1||Oisin Murphy
|11||Dunbar Road||15-1||Jose Ortiz
Purchased by White Birch Farm as a yearling for $350,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September sale, Dunbar Road didn't race until her 3-year-old season, but after just nine starts she has already won six races, half of them graded, and earned nearly $1 million.
After dominating in her debut by more than eight lengths at Gulfstream Park in March 2019, Dunbar Road jumped immediately to graded competition and finished second, beaten just half a length, in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2). The runner-up finish gave her 40 points toward the 2019 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1), but the late start to her career left her without time to gain more points and she was shut out of the field.
A step back to allowance company at Belmont Park resulted in the first of three straight New York wins, the next two coming in the Mother Goose Stakes (G2) and the Alabama Stakes (G1).
Dunbar Road next faced her elders in the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1) at Keeneland and was third, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths by eventual Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) winner Blue Prize (ARG). Again facing older fillies and mares, she was fifth in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff, the final start of her 3-year-old season. She started her 4-year-old season six months later by winning the black type Shawnee Stakes at Churchill Downs in May and the Delaware Handicap (G2) at Delaware Park in July.
Competing only in races at a mile or longer on dirt, Dunbar Road has won on fast tracks and sloppy tracks. Patient and versatile, she is usually within a length or two of the early leaders, but has won racing wide and from well behind the pace.
White Birch Farm, the 2017 sale buyer, is an entity of the filly's owner, Peter Brant, chair and CEO of White Birch Paper Company, which operates mills in the US and Canada. Brant was away from racing for about 20 years before he returned in 2016 to campaign Sistercharlie (IRE), 2018 Eclipse Award-winning female turf champion and winner of that year's Breeders' Cup Maker's Mark Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Brant had won the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) in 1988 with his homebred multiple Grade 1 winner Gulch and he bred Gulch's son Thunder Gulch, winner of the 1995 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1).
Dunbar Road is named for the road in Palm Beach, Florida, where Brant maintains a home.
Dunbar Road is trained by Chad Brown, who was an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel before opening his own stable in 2007. Brown has won the Eclipse Award as leading trainer four years running, 2016 to 2019.
Horologist dominated her first race, romping to a pacesetting, 20 3/4-length win over just 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt at Monmouth Park. Trained then by the late New Jersey legend John Mazza, she next unsuccessfully tried turf racing, her only start on grass. Back on dirt, she placed in a couple of black type sprint stakes at Gulfstream Park in late 2018-early 2019, but she really hit her stride last spring as a 3-year-old when she stretched out to a mile or longer. From March to August she reeled off four straight wins, earning her first stakes win, the Smart N Classy, and capping the streak with her first graded win, the Monmouth Oaks (G3). Mazza tested her at Grade 1 level for her next start, when she finished third in the Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing.
Transferred to California-based trainer Richard Baltas, Horologist returned to sprinting in the Lexus Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland, finishing well off the board. After a three-month break, she returned unsuccessfully in January 2020 in the La Canada Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita to begin her 4-year-old season. In March, she shipped back across the country to miss winning the black type Nellie Morse Stakes at Laurel Park by just a neck.
After finishing ninth in the Apple Blossom Stakes (G1) at Oaklawn Park April 18 and an ill-fated run in the Santa Maria Stakes (G2) May 31, Horologist was transferred to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Back home in New Jersey for her next start, she returned to the winner's circle in the Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3) at Monmouth. Again seeking her first Grade 1 win, she next was third at Churchill Downs in the LaTroienne Stakes presented by Oak Grove Racing and Gaming behind six-time Grade 1 winner Monomoy Girl.
In all six of her wins from 18 starts, the versatile Horologist has either set the pace, pressured the pacesetter, or settled back two to three lengths behind the early leaders.
Cameron Beatty's There's A Chance Stable was the sole owner of Horologist for her first 11 races, all in Mazza's care. After the Cotillion Stakes, There's A Chance was joined by partners Parkland Thoroughbreds, named by Steve and Debbie Weston for the Florida town where they live; Medallion Racing, a partnership venture put together by Taylor Made Farm; and Abbondanza Racing LLC, a partnership whose name in Italian means abundance.
Horologist's name is a play on the names of her father and mother. Sired by Gemologist, Horologist is out of a mare named Cinderella Time. As a gemologist is one who specializes in the study of gemstones, a horologist is one who studies the measurement of time and timepieces.
Kentucky-bred Letruska comes from the barn of a leading trainer and owner in Mexico where she won her first seven starts. She is owned and bred by the St. George Stables of Germán Larrea Mota-Velasco, who heads the largest copper mining business in his native Mexico. She is conditioned by Fausto Gutierrez whose specialties include training horses from Mexico. As part of the program, Letruska won a stakes restricted to runners from certain Latin American countries in her first United States start Dec. 8 at Gulfstream Park.
Other horses trained for St. George by Gutierrez include Kukulkan (Mex), runner-up in the 2019 West Virginia Governor's Cup Stakes (G3) at Mountaineer and Jala Jala (Mex), second in the 2019 Royal Delta Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
"(St. George) has been my main owner for the last 15 years," Gutierrez said in an article posted January 16 in Thoroughbred Daily News. "About a year ago, he said he wanted to move some horses to try to win in the U.S."
Gutierrez had hoped to get Letruska a guaranteed spot in the Breeders' Cup by running her in Saratoga's Ballerina Stakes (G1), a "Win and You're In" event for the Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), but she was nervous in the saddling paddock and finished fifth. A more relaxed Letruska returned to the same saddling paddock and exited it to capture the Shuvee Stakes (G3) at the Longines Distaff distance of 1 1/8 miles.
"She's a filly that needs speed and distance," Guitierrez said. "This is obvious in her races here and in Mexico. In Mexico, she doesn't have the big competition, but she made very good times."
Emotions are extra high when Malathaat is in action. She has brought comfort to the team of owner Shadwell Stable following the March passing of its principal Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the crown prince of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
"We really needed this," Shadwell's longtime general manager Rick Nichols said in the Keeneland winner's circle following Malathaat's triumph in the Central Bank Ashland Stakes (G1) on April 3.
She extended that support at the end of the month with her score in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) to remain unbeaten through her first five starts. She experienced defeat for the first time when a close second in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga Race Course in her sixth start. However, she rebounded with a determined performance in taking the Alabama Stakes (G1) on Aug. 21.
Malathaat was a sought-after commodity when she entered the sales arena at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. She lived up to the hype a few minutes later when she exited under the bid board illuminated at $1.05 million.
"Physically, she's about as perfect as you can get," Nichols said. "She just looked like a horse that would have a lot of class. As soon as I saw her at the sale, I knew Sheikh Hamdan would love her. Malathaat could be the foundation mare of the next generation for his family. The main thing about her is early on, she had such an effortless gallop. She covers the ground so easily. It doesn't look like she has to work hard at all."
Malathaat has a Breeders' Cup pedigree. Her sire Curlin won the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) and her dam Dreaming of Julia (a daughter of 1992 Classic winner A.P. Indy) was third in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). When she retires, Malathaat likely will join the broodmare division of Shadwell, a name synonymous for breeding and racing premiere Thoroughbreds around the globe.
Malathaat was bred by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings based in the Bluegrass region of Central Kentucky and in Ocala, Florida. The operation was started in 2005 by internationally acclaimed winemaker Jess Jackson known for the Kendall-Jackson brand. He died in 2011 and his widow, Barbara Banke, continues her involvement with all aspects of the Stonestreet divisions. The best horses raced by Stonestreet are Horses of the Year and Hall of Fame members Curlin and Rachel Alexandra.
One of Japan's top dirt horses, U. Carrot Farm's flashy chestnut mare Marche Lorraine (JPN) looks to be the first Japanese runner in the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1). The daughter of Japanese Horse of the Year Orfevre has won eight of 20 starts (earning more than $1.8 million), including her last run in August's Breeders' Gold Cup over 10 furlongs at Mombetsu -her third stakes victory of 2021.
Earlier this year, she flashed her versatility with a victory in the 9-furlong Tck Jo-O Hai (Listed) at Oi Racecourse six weeks before winning the 11-furlong Empress Hai (Listed) at Kawasaki. Group/graded races are few and far between on the much-less-celebrated dirt racing program in Japan, but the horses to excel over its testing surfaces have gone on to do well around the world, including 2021 Dubai World Cup (G1) runner-up Chuwa Wizard.
An ability to successfully tackle multiple circumstances appears a running theme in Marche Lorraine's running lines, as she is a three-time winner on turf (both good and firm) and has proven victorious from 8½ to 11 furlongs on fast, good and muddy dirt tracks. She is named after a famed French anthem and has marched to her own beat throughout her career, while clashing with some of the best Japan has to offer on the dirt.
A four-time winner over the 1 1/8-miles distance of the Distaff, the granddaughter of 1995 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) ninth French Deputy enters as a wild card, who must be respected, especially considering her connections.
Trainer Yoshito Yahagi has consistently shipped horses with success around the world, including champion mare Lys Gracieux (JPN), who won Australia's Cox Plate (G1); Loves Only You (JPN), who was a close third this year in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) before winning the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) in Hong Kong; and Loves Only You's full brother Real Steel (JPN), winner of the 2016 Dubai Turf (G1). Yahagi also trains Contrail (JPN), winner of the 2020 Japanese Triple Crown. He is one of the favorites for the upcoming Japan Cup (G1) and was recently a very good third in the Prix de la Foret (G1) on Arc Day.
Lys Gracieux, a four-time G1 winner on two continents, also was owned by U. Carrot Farm, an operation that never has shied from shipping top horses around the globe, including Grade 1 winner Chrysoberyl (JPN), who competed in the inaugural Saudi Cup; Japanese Derby winner Rey de Oro (JPN), a dual Dubai Sheema Classic alum; and Hong Kong Mile (G1) winner and subsequent USA sire Hat Trick (JPN).
U. Carrot's colors were also worn by Cesario (JPN), who shipped over from Japan to become the most dominant winner in the history of the American Oaks (G1) in 2005 at Hollywood Park before producing U. Carrot stars Saturnalia (JPN) (G1 Japanese 2000 Guineas), Epiphaneia (JPN) (G1 Japan Cup) and Leontes (JPN) (G1 Asahi Hai Futurity). Its last venture to America ended disappointingly when their UAE Derby (G2) runner-up Epicharis (JPN) was a veterinarian scratch from the 2017 Belmont Stakes (G1) with an injured right front hoof. He was the 4-1 second choice on the morning line for the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Quiet consistency has been the hallmark for Royal Flag as the daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) has not been worse than third in her 12 career starts. In the wake of her statement-making triumph in the Beldame Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park Oct. 10, the William S. Farish homebred now will get the chance to make some noise in the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1).
A half-sister to multiple graded stakes winner Catalina Cruiser, Royal Flag scored her first career graded stakes victory when she captured the 2020 Turnback the Alarm Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct last November. The 5-year-old chestnut mare has since added two more graded triumphs to her ledger, taking the Shuvee Stakes (G3) at Saratoga Race Course July 25 and posting an eye-catching 4 ¼-length win in the 1 1/8-mile Beldame after rating off the leaders in fifth as the field raced down the backside.
"This year she's obviously taken a big step forward," Dan Stupp, assistant to trainer Chad Brown, said after the Beldame. "She's trained better than ever and she's been to all of our divisions. Everyone has done a great job of developing her. I'm sure the Farishes are thrilled with her progress as well and the black type that Chad has been able to develop into her."
Proving she doesn't need to take her racetrack with her, Royal Flag has notched her six career victories at five venues: Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, Churchill Downs, Saratoga and Belmont. In her lone try against Grade 1 company, she was only beaten a little more than a half-length by divisional leader Letruska while finishing third in the Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 28.
"When she passes horses, she can hang a little bit," jockey Joel Rosario said of Royal Flag after the Beldame. "I feel like if I get her away from them, she's more focused at that point."
When she is not on the racetrack, Shedaresthedevil takes on the role of the barn pet - a sweetheart of filly who is as docile around children as a backyard pony. Once the daughter of Daredevil springs forth from a starting gate, however, she is as fierce a competitor as any in the depth-laden distaff ranks.
The upset winner of the 2020 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) is a secret no more as she has developed into one of the most successful runners of her generation during her 4-year-old campaign. With the retirement of her two-time champion stablemate Monomoy Girl in 2021, Shedaresthedevil has taken over the mantle as the top female runner in the barn of Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox by posting four wins from five starts this season including two Grade 1 triumphs.
When she made her seasonal bow in the Azeri Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park March 13, Shedaresthedevil went to the lead and never looked back en route to handing eventual divisional leader Letruska her only loss this year. She would follow that effort up with another gate-to-wire triumph in the La Troienne Stakes presented by Twinspires.com (G1) at Churchill Downs April 30 before suffering her only defeat on the season when third to Letruska in the June 5 Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1).
Shedaresthedevil showed she was right at home at the Breeders' Cup host site when she won the Aug. 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar by a widening 3 ¼ lengths. In her final tightener for the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1), the bay filly took up her usual spot on the front end and held off a charge from Crystal Ball to annex the Sept. 18 Locust Grove Stakes (G3) at Churchill.
"She's the total package," Staton Flurry, who co-owns Shedaresthedevil along with Qatar Racing and Big Aut Farms, told TVG Insider News. "She's a competitor on the track, whether it's in the mornings breezing or in the afternoon racing. But anytime at the barn, she's just such a cool horse to be around. She's the kindest spirited horse I've ever been around."
Shedaresthedevil has won nine of 16 career starts and has only been worse than third once in her career. She was purchased by Flurry Racing Stables for $280,000 out of the 2019 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
Blue Stripe (ARG) earned her ticket to the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) by capturing the "Win and You're In" Gran Premio Criadores (G1) at Palermo Racecourse in Argentina May 1. In addition to her paid entry fee to the Distaff, Breeders' Cup provides a $40,000 travel allowance to compete in the World Championships.
The Distaff will mark her first start outside her native Argentina where she has won four of six races. Since arriving on the West Coast, Blue Stripe has shown a steady workout pattern at Del Mar and Santa Anita since August.
The daughter of top South American stallion Equal Stripes has a strong Breeders' Cup pedigree and will be attempting to follow in the footsteps of her older half-sister Blue Prize (ARG), who won the 2019 Distaff at Santa Anita after finishing a close fourth in the 2018 renewal at Churchill Downs. A few days after the 2019 Distaff triumph, Blue Prize was sold as a broodmare for $5-million at Fasig-Tipton's "Night of the Stars" November sale in Lexington, Kentucky.
In winning the Gran Premio Criadores, Blue Stripe displayed the determination that is the hallmark of superior Thoroughbreds. Racing just off the leaders early, she battled a rival through the stretch and then held off a late run by another challenger for the narrow victory.
Prior to the Gran Premio Criadores, Blue Stripe won the Clasico Haras Argentinos Feb. 5 and the Clasico Arturo R. and Arturo Bullrich Stakes (G2) March 6.
As Time Goes By got off to a strong start in 2021 with an excellent showing in four races at Santa Anita. She won her 4-year-old bow, an allowance race. Next, she finished second to Swiss Skydiver in the Beholder Mile Stakes (G1), and then she won two Grade 2 races: the Santa Margarita Stakes and the Santa Maria Stakes.
She took on powerhouses of the game - Shedaresthedevil and Venetian Harbor - in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) and finished fourth. Her next race, the Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, provided the second time she has finished outside the top three in her consistent 10-race career.
In her most recent start, she finished second to stablemate Private Mission in the Zenyatta Stakes (G2). Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was pleased with how both fillies ran and felt like As Time Goes By proved herself to be a Breeders' Cup contender. The two will compete against each other again in the Longines Distaff (G1).
Baffert has won 17 Breeders' Cup races, but he hasn't won the Distaff. He is the second-winningest trainer in Breeders' Cup history behind D. Wayne Lukas, who has 20 wins in the championship series.
The dark bay filly races for Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier and Derrick Smith. She is the daughter of American Pharoah, the 2015 Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner, and multiple graded stakes victress Take Charge Lady, who participated in the 2003 Distaff.
|2020||Monomoy Girl||Florent Geroux||Brad Cox||1:47.84|
|2019||Blue Prize||Joe Bravo||Ignacio Correas, IV||1:50.50|
|2018||Monomoy Girl||Florent Geroux||Brad Cox||1:49.79|
|2017||Forever Unbridled||John Velazquez||Dallas Stewart||1:50.25|
|2016||Beholder||Gary Stevens||Richard Mandella||1:49.20|
|2015||Stopchargingmaria||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||1:48.98|
|2014||Untapable||Rosie Napravnik||Steve Asmussen||1:48.68|
|2013||Beholder||Gary Stevens||Richard Mandella||1:47.77|
|2012||Royal Delta||Mike E. Smith||MWilliam I. Mott||1:48.80|
|2011||Royal Delta||Jose Lezcano||William I. Mott||1:50.78|
|2010||Unrivaled Belle||Kent Desormeaux||William I. Mott||1:50.04|
|2009||Life Is Sweet||Garrett K. Gomez||John Shirreffs||1:48.58|
|2008||Zenyatta||Mike E. Smith||John Shirreffs||1:46.85|
|Breeders' Cup Race||Grade||Purse||Date|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint||II||$1,000,000||November 5|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf||I||$1,000,000||November 5|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies||I||$2,000,000||November 5|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf||I||$1,000,000||November 5|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile||I||$2,000,000||November 5|
|Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint||I||$1,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint||I||$1,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile||I||$1,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf||I||$2,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Sprint||I||$2,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Mile||I||$2,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Distaff||I||$2,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Turf||I||$4,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Classic||I||$6,000,000||November 6|
|Race Tracks||Time (ET)|