(Monomoy Girl / Coady Photography)
From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
Ce Ce – Bo Hirsch’s Ce Ce galloped on the main track under Osman Cedeno just after it opened for training at 6 o’clock Wednesday morning as she continued her preparation for a start in Saturday’s $2 million Longines Distaff.
Trained by Michael McCarthy, Ce Ce started 2020 with three consecutive victories including Grade 1 scores in the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita and the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park. Since then, she has two thirds followed by a fourth sprinting in the Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs in her most recent start.
“It is not her fault,” McCarthy said. “She has had some excuses and there were some errors in judgment on my part. She is doing as well as she ever has.”
John Velazquez, who has won the Distaff twice, has the mount Saturday.
Dunbar Road – Grade 1 winner Dunbar Road galloped 1m of the Keeneland main track on Wednesday morning, per trainer Chad Brown. The earner of $1,016,040 goes after win number seven in her 11th start Saturday in the Longines Distaff. Fifth of 11 last year in the $2 million fixture, the Peter Brant-owned daughter of Quality Road will be ridden by Jose Ortiz, who has been aboard for five of her six wins.
“She didn’t break that well last time (when third in the Beldame),” Ortiz said. “I think the last race looks kind of bad, but it was also a really heavy track. She worked really good the other day (Nov. 1, 5f in 1:00 3/5 at Belmont Park).
“I know it’s a tough race with these two fillies (Swiss Skydiver and Monomoy Girl), but she’s a very honest filly,” Ortiz concluded. “Hopefully she he can get a good position and make her run.”
Harvest Moon – Alice Bamford and Michael Tabor’s Harvest Moon galloped on the main track shortly after 6 o’clock as she prepared to continue her march from a debuting runner in June to a Breeders’ Cup starter in November.
Bred by Bamford, Harvest Moon did not start until June 12 at Santa Anita in a 1m grass race in which she finished third. Four subsequent starts on dirt have produced all victories.
“She is a late maturing filly and she had little niggling issues as a 2-year-old,” trainer Simon Callaghan said. “The whole family is like that. I raced her dam (Qaraaba-GB) and she was a grass filly who won a stake for me at age 5 after racing in Europe. She only ran for me twice before she got hurt, but she is by Shamardal and (his offspring) could go on dirt.”
Flavien Prat, who has been aboard for all four of her victories, has the mount Saturday.
Horologist – There’s a Chance Stable et al.’s Horologist, who exits a 3-length victory in Belmont’s Beldame, will make her fourth start for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in the Longines Distaff on Saturday at Keeneland. Previously in the care of Richard Baltas for five races and John Mazza 11 races before then, the daughter of Gemologist appears in career form with her latest conditioner, while heading into her stiffest test.
In her first run for Mott, she won the Molly Pitcher by 2 lengths at Monmouth Park on July 18, seven weeks after failing to finish the Santa Maria at Santa Anita for Baltas. She returned Sept. 4, Kentucky Oaks Day, and was third to Distaff favorite Monomoy Girl, an effort that was bettered 30 days later when defying the toll of being close to a hot pace and finishing strongly to win the Beldame.
“If she can repeat the last race, we’ll be in the game,” Mott said. “It’s a very tough race with a couple tough fillies in there. I will wait until I have a chance to look at the Form in post position order. That always factors into it a little bit, but she looks like a stalker-type to me and her natural running style is being a stalker.
“Even though we have been training her and run her a few times, it looks like she’s become a little stouter and a little stronger,” he continued. “She was coming off an effort in California where she was eased the time before, so anything would have been an improvement, but each race, from running big at Monmouth and not as well in the La Troienne to a really big race last time, she’s become stronger.”
On Wednesday morning, Horologist left Keeneland’s Barn 60 galloped an easy circuit of the main track.
Lady Kate – Lady Kate, who is seeking her first graded stakes victory, arrived at Keeneland around 8:30 a.m. after galloping 1m at Churchill Downs for trainer Eddie Kenneally. She is scheduled to visit the saddling paddock Thursday morning as part of her morning exercise.
Since finishing fourth in Keeneland’s Spinster on Oct. 4, Lady Kate has breezed three times at Churchill Downs. Her most recent workout was a 4f drill in 48 1/5 on Oct. 31. The 4yo Bernardini filly campaigns for Anderson Stables, which purchased her for $485,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale.
Monomoy Girl – The 2018 Longines Distaff winner Monomoy Girl continues to impress her trainer Brad Cox as she prepares for his second start in the race. The Tapizar mare won the 2018 Ashland at Keeneland to give Cox his first career Grade 1 before capturing the Kentucky Oaks and eventually ending that year with her Breeders’ Cup score. This year’s Distaff will be only her second start at the famed Lexington track, but she is very familiar with her surroundings here.
“She’s good, really good,” Cox said. “She’s as good as she’s ever been honestly. It’s scary to see how well she’s moving, how happy she is and how fresh she is. She really likes Keeneland. She spent a lot of time here as a 2-year-old and obviously won the Ashland here and prepared for the Ashland here. She was here for a few weeks before the race then. And, she spent a good time here this spring. Most of her works before getting back to races were here at Keeneland. She does love it here, there’s no doubt about it.”
Monomoy Girl had a routine gallop Wednesday with regular rider Fernando Espinoza on board.
Ollie’s Candy – Paul and Karen Eggert’s Ollie’s Candy galloped 1 1/2m shortly after the main track opened at 6 o’clock with Juan Leyva in the saddle for trainer John Sadler.
Sadler took over the training of Ollie’s Candy in 2019 and has started her 10 times with the first two being on turf.
“She had been running on turf when we got her but she had won on the all-weather (at Golden Gate) and the Summertime Oaks on dirt at Santa Anita,” Sadler said. “I have trained many Candy Rides and I know they are good on a variety of surfaces.
“We took her down to Del Mar (after her two grass starts) and she trained so well on the dirt we made the decision to run her on it.”
Joel Rosario, who has ridden her in five of her 15 starts and most recently to a runner-up finish in the Juddmonte Spinster at Keeneland, has the mount Saturday.
Point of Honor – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing LLC’s Point of Honor galloped 1 3/8m at Keeneland Wednesday morning in her quest to earn her first Grade I victory in Saturday’s Distaff.
The 4yo daughter of Curlin, who is rated at 30-1 in the morning line, has been second or third in six top-grade stakes, including the Coaching Club of America Oaks, Alabama, Apple Blossom, Ogden Phipps, Personal Ensign and Beldame.
“We need a good trip. We need things to happen, but I don’t think it’s that far-fetched. She was in a big field in the Apple Blossom. There were some very good mares in there, several Grade 1 winners. With a little more luck, she could have won that,” trainer George Weaver said. “She needs a little luck. She needs the right trip.”
Point of Honor, who will face the likes of 2018 Distaff winner Monomoy Girl and Preakness heroine Swiss Skydiver Saturday, has employed an off-the-place style while finishing in the money in all but one of her 11 career starts.
“Obviously, I’m a big fan of Swiss Skydiver. She ran huge in the Preakness. She’s very talented. I saw her win the Alabama [at Saratoga],” Weaver said. “There are a few horses to beat in there. Maybe (Swiss Skydiver) will apply some pressure when it’s needed there during the race and set up a pace a little bit.”
Swiss Skydiver – It’s unusual for a trainer to have a hard time finding a jockey for a multiple graded stakes winner, but that was the position trainer Kenny McPeek found himself in several times this year with Swiss Skydiver. When he needed a jockey to ride the Grade 1 winner, who had already proven herself successful against the boys when second in the Blue Grass, in the Preakness, he turned to his old friend Robby Albarado. The subsequent victory was redemption for both the trainer and rider. Swiss Skydiver’s win over Kentucky Derby winner Authentic validated McPeek’s decision to go in the race and brought Albarado back to the national spotlight.
Albarado doesn’t plan on letting Swiss Skydiver get away and has been her regular exercise rider all week, coming out in the first set for what McPeek calls an “uncomplicated” gallop.
“She’s doing extremely well,” Albarado said. “I want to say she’s doing as good if not better than she was at Pimlico (Preakness week). She’s moving really well. She’s very confident. She’s so smart about everything. She knows where she’s at and what she has to do.”
Reflecting on the Preakness, Albarado said it couldn’t have been a better week.
“It was a fun week,” he said. “To be around a filly like her is a real treat. She’s rare. She doesn’t care about gender. She’s very confident in everything she did all week. That instilled a lot of confidence in me to make all the decisions I needed to in the race. I know it was a bold move to make on the backside, but she was willing to do it herself. She’s such a champion. There was no way Authentic was going by her. Even past the wire, he wasn’t getting by her. That shows her guts.”
Swiss Skydiver drew post position five and is the 2-1 second choice behind 2018 Longines Distaff winner Monomoy Girl.
“I love my draw. I love being where I’m at. We have to beat them all. If they weren’t good, they wouldn’t be in the race, but I guess the main threat is Monomoy Girl on the outside. I just want to get away clean and get through the first turn to see where we’re at. Hopefully, I can get her tucked in the same as in the Preakness and tick off the 12s like she likes to do. Every eighth of mile, she’ll go in 12 (seconds) and comes home as fast as you want her.”
Albarado has three Breeders’ Cup victories, including the 2007 Classic on Curlin, but has not had a mount in the event since 2017 as he saw his business decline.
“She came along at the perfect time,” Albarado said. “I needed a filly like her to get back on the stage that I had gotten accustomed to. I haven’t been on a filly as nice as her. It’s worked out for everyone.”
Valiance – The remarkably consistent Valiance brings a record of six wins in eight starts to the Distaff. The winner of Keeneland’s Juddmonte Spinster on Oct. 4 has won on fast and sloppy tracks and on turf at four tracks. The 4yo daughter of Tapit is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Martin Schwartz, who purchased her for $650,000 at Fasig-Tipton Co.’s Saratoga selected yearling sale.
“Before she raced, we had high hopes for her based on her pedigree,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Then she won her first start and won a stakes in her third start. You don’t very often see a horse that can step up in class in their first three starts. We liked her a lot before that, but that really stamped her quality. She has filled out and gotten stronger and that has allowed her to get better on the dirt this year as opposed to being primarily a turf filly.”
Through Nov. 3, Pletcher is one victory away from becoming the eighth North American-based trainer to win 5,000 races.
“It would be great if it happened in a Breeders’ Cup race, but we have a few runners before that and we hope to win any race we can,” he said. “It is a great milestone for the team. A lot of people put forth a great amount of effort to make it happen. Lots of good horses and good clients over the years – we have been fortunate and are excited that it will happen.”