(Dunbar Road / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
Blue Prize – Merriebelle Stable’s Blue Prize galloped 1 3/8m under exercise rider Hiram Rosario Wednesday morning as she continued preparations for a second run in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Trainer Ignacio Correas IV was asked about his confidence level for the 6yo Argentina-bred mare going into this year’s Distaff as opposed to 2018 at Churchill Downs when she finished fourth behind champion Monomoy Girl.
“These Grade 1s are always tough and it is the same this year with five, six, seven Grade 1 winners in there,” Correas said. “Last year it was Monomoy Girl and this year it is Midnight Bisou.
“You try to be competitive going into these races and I feel very good about my horse. But there are other people that feel good, too; another 10 people.”
The Distaff figures to be the last hurrah for Blue Prize with Correas as she is in the Nov. 5 Fasig-Tipton November Sale in Lexington, Kentucky.
“She is in the peak of condition,” Correas said. “She has given me three good years.”
Dunbar Road – A winner of four of six since her career began in March, Dunbar Road will step up in Saturday’s Distaff for owner Peter Brant and trainer Chad Brown. On Wednesday morning, the Alabama winner left Barn 48 with stablemates Sistercharlie and Bricks and Mortar and proceeded to gallop an easy 1¼m over the main track of Santa Anita Park.
The daughter of Quality Road finished up her serious preparation with a 5f breeze at Belmont Park in 1:01 flat on Oct. 26 and enters off a third-place finish—her worst placing so far—in the Spinster at Keeneland.
“In the Spinster she didn’t get a good trip,” Brown said. “She was stuck on a dead rail and closer to the pace than she normally is. It just wasn’t good. If she could have been a little further back and got a clear trip, she could have won the race. If she gets a cleaner trip, I expect a much better effort this time.”
La Force – Trainer Patrick (Paddy) Gallagher had La Force on the track early today for a 1 1/2m gallop as she readies for what likely will be her final start Saturday in the Distaff. As usual, regular rider Caesar Garcia was aboard. This will be the third Breeders’ Cup appearance for the imported mare.
Midnight Bisou – Horse of the Year candidate Midnight Bisou galloped an easy 1 ¼ miles with Angel Garcia aboard, according to trainer Steve Asmussen’s assistant Scott Blasi. The 6-5 morning-line favorite for the Distaff is owned by Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing. The tactical filly will break from post four of 11 on Saturday in the 9f race. Mike Smith, who has ridden her in six of her seven wins from as many starts this season, will once again have the mount Saturday.
“Mike rides her every day and has a tremendous amount of confidence in her, so however the pace goes, he’s the one riding,” Blasi said. “Coming into the race, she gets pretty sharp. She knows it’s game time, now. Like most good horses, they get into that routine. They know what you’re doing with them and she knows she’s running this week.”
Mo See Cal – Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen’s Peter Miller-trained Mo See Cal, a gate-to-wire winner of allowance company over the local Santa Anita surface last out, galloped 1m at San Luis Rey Downs on Wednesday morning before arriving at Santa Anita Park around 10 a.m. The gray California-bred daughter of Uncle Mo is Miller’s first starter in the Distaff. Miller has a record of 18-4-2-1 otherwise.
“She’s doing great,” Miller said from San Luis Rey. “She galloped today and arrived there this morning.”
Ollie’s Candy — Ollie’s Candy came to the track around 6:30 a.m. with stablemate and Classic entrant Higher Power on Wednesday, putting in a gallop and standing in the gate while under the guidance of exercise rider Juan Leyva.
Ollie’s Candy won the first three starts of her career under the handling of previous trainer, Bill Morey, with her first graded win coming at Santa Anita when she took the 2018 edition of the Summertime Oaks.
“She was good before I got her and she ran a really nice race at Del Mar last time out in the Clement Hirsch,” trainer John Sadler said. “She won a stakes here at 3, she won the Summertime Oaks, so I think she ought to be highly competitive (in the Distaff). She’s training very well for this race.”
Paradise Woods – Getting Paradise Woods to get her mind right is always the biggest challenge for those handling the daughter of Union Rags. In her second spin around the Santa Anita Park main track Wednesday, the multiple Grade I winner appeared much more settled under exercise rider Cisco Alvarado.
“There was a lot of traffic this morning so the first time around, she pulls. But the second time, she relaxes,” trainer John Shirreffs said.
Shirreffs is trying to win the Distaff for the third time in his career, having saddled future Hall of Famer Zenyatta to victory in 2008 and Life Is Sweet to the triumph the following year.
Secret Spice – Trainer Richard Baltas was back at the track Wednesday supervising his stakes-winning filly Secret Spice as she schooled in the starting gate, then galloped 1 1/4m over the main track under exercise rider Sarafin Carmona for Saturday’s Distaff.
The 4yo filly is partially owned by celebrity chef and restaurant owner Bobby Flay, a Breeders’ Cup ambassador and past Breeders’ Cup winning owner.
“He bought a minority interest in the filly following her win in the Grade 1 race (the Beholder Mile) here last spring,” Baltas said. ”I know he’ll be here for her race on Saturday.”
Serengeti Empress – Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress got her first feel for the main track at Santa Anita Wednesday morning, jogging under exercise rider William Chavez for trainer Tom Amoss in preparation for Saturday’s Distaff.
Winner of the Kentucky Oaks as well as a winner in two Grade 2 races, Serengeti Empress finished seventh in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs.
Street Band – Street Band, who enjoyed a breakthrough win last out in the Cotillion Stakes at Parx, made her first appearance on the Santa Anita track Wednesday. She schooled in the gate and galloped 1 1/2m with trainer and co-owner Larry Jones on board. She also schooled in the paddock and was scheduled to return to the paddock for more schooling later in morning.
“She got a little antsy in the paddock, but that’s just her,” Jones said. “She galloped nicely and was perfect in the gate.”
Street Band is stabled in the barn of Hall of Famer Richard Mandella and Jones is hoping some of his Breeders’ Cup good fortune will wear off on Street Band. Mandella has won nine Breeders’ Cup races, including four at one event in 2003.
“If there’s anywhere for her to learn confidence and calmness, it’s right here in Mr. Mandella’s barn,” Jones said.
Wow Cat – Leaving Barn 48 at 9:05 a.m., Peter Brant and Stud Vendaval’s Wow Cat went to the Santa Anita Park main track with fellow Chad Brown trainees Thais and Uni and galloped 1¼ miles.
Wow Cat and stablemate Dunbar Road are seeking to become Chad Brown’s first winner in the Distaff. Last year, when finishing second, the daughter of Lookin At Lucky was only his second starter in the race. His only other was Awesome Feather, who was sixth in 2012.
“She’s training well and is coming into the race well,” Brown said. “This year we’re hoping for a good trip with her.”