(Dunbar Road / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
Blue Prize – Merriebelle Stable’s ultra-consistent 6yo mare Blue Prize galloped 2 1/4m Thursday morning at Santa Anita under exercise rider Hiram Rosario for trainer Ignacio Correas IV.
“She will have an easy gallop Friday,” Correas said of the mare who has been worse than third only twice in 18 starts since she came to Correas from Argentina in 2017.
Joe Bravo, who has ridden Blue Prize five times including back-to-back victories in the Spinster at Keeneland, has the mount Saturday in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Dunbar Road – Peter Brant’s Alabama winner Dunbar Road continues to train enthusiastically as she prepares for Saturday’s Distaff. The Chad Brown-trained daughter of Quality Road galloped 1¼m on Thursday. A victory in the 9f affair likely would sew up year-end honors in a wide-open 3yo filly division that has multiple main players in the Distaff field, including Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Serengeti Empress and Cotillion winner Street Band.
Dunbar Road, who was stuck on the inside throughout when breaking from the rail last time and finishing third in the Spinster, drew well in post five of 11. Jose Ortiz has the mount, which bodes well, as the two are undefeated from four starts together.
La Force – Can the third time be the charm for La Force? Saturday’s Distaff will mark the mare’s third attempt to win a Breeders’ Cup race for trainer Patrick (Paddy) Gallagher.
“There’s nothing more to do,” Gallagher said at his barn Thursday morning after the 5yo completed her exercise. “She had her usual 1 1/2m gallop. Now the only thing is for us to keep her happy and healthy and hope for the best.”
La Force finished eighth in last year’s renewal and previously ran seventh in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Midnight Bisou – Midnight Bisou left Barn 59 with exercise rider Angel Garcia Thursday morning and continued to please onlookers as she prepares to cement her perfect season and throw her hat into the Horse of the Year ring in Saturday’s Distaff.
Trained by Steve Asmussen and owned by Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing, the daughter of two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Midnight Lute will break from post four in the 11-horse field.
“Today she schooled at the gate and then galloped,” Asmussen said. “She’s doing well.”
Mo See Cal – Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen’s Mo See Cal left Barn 44 and galloped 1m over the Santa Anita track at 9a.m.
The five-time winner from 16 starts enters the Distaff as an outsider, exiting a local allowance victory and never having raced against graded stakes company or as far as the 9f trip, but trainer Peter Miller is hopeful that the gray 4yo California-bred daughter of Uncle Mo will give a good account of herself if the chips fall her way.
“Gary (Hartunian of Rockingham Ranch) is a sportsman and we like this filly,” Miller said. “If she’s good enough, and she could be, she could get a piece of this. I would be elated with a third and who knows what could happen when the gates open; if something happens to the other speed. She’s a filly that we picked up for just $25,000 and she’s really done well for us. She won last time really easily over this track, so we are taking a shot.”
Ollie’s Candy – Ollie’s Candy galloped 1 1/2m on the main track Thursday while under the guidance of exercise rider Juan Leyva.
Paradise Woods – The John Shirreffs-trained filly visited the training track Thursday, standing on the far turn for a handful of minutes under exercise rider Cisco Alvarado before taking off into her gallop.
When she is on her game, Paradise Woods has proven she can run with the best of them over her home track. She has won the past two editions of the Zenyatta Stakes, including her 1 ¾-length victory in that spot on Sept. 29, and has the kind of early speed that allows her control her destiny in a race.
“I hope she does match up with (Distaff favorite) Midnight Bisou. That would be wonderful,” Shirreffs said. “The Distaff is a very special race for me in a lot of ways and it’s an exciting time when you come to the Breeders’ Cup and the big race venues. There is a lot of energy, a lot of excitement. That’s the top of the game so you always want your horse to perform well.”
Secret Spice – It would seem logical to assume that Distaff entrant Secret Spice would have been named by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, a minority owner in the 4yo filly.
“He didn’t purchase a stake in the horse until after she won the Beholder Mile,” trainer Richard Baltas said.
Since the acquisition, Secret Spice has finished second in three consecutive stakes races at three racetracks.
Under exercise rider Sarafin Caramona, the stakes winning Secret Spice stood in the starting gate Thursday before galloping 1 3/8m.
“Everything went well with her,” Baltas said.
Serengeti Empress –Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress backtracked to the front of the grandstand and then galloped 1m under William Chavez Thursday morning.
“This was her first morning to gallop here and she looked great,” trainer Tom Amoss said. “She just jogged yesterday after getting here the day before (from Kentucky).”
Serengeti Empress, winner of the Kentucky Oaks at the Distaff distance of 1 1/8m, also had been pre-entered in the Filly & Mare Sprint, but the Distaff was her first preference.
For the Distaff, Serengeti Empress drew post nine marking the first time since the Oaks that she did not draw the one hole.
“There is potential dangerous speed to the outside of us (Mo See Cal) that could compromise us,” Amoss said. “But, that doesn’t change our game plan. We are going (to the front).”
Flavien Prat will be aboard for the first time Saturday.
Street Band – Trainer and co-owner Larry Jones was aboard his multiple stakes winner Street Band Thursday morning as she continued her training toward the Distaff. The filly stood in the gate, galloped once around and then walked through the paddock on her way back to the barn.
“She’s was pretty lively (Thursday morning),” Jones said. “It was a cool morning here and she was ready to warm up. She went nice, but you could tell she was on her toes. She was a little ranker galloping today, but it was under control. I think she’s ready if she’ll just continue to hold her composure.”
Street Band, winner of the Cotillion Stakes last out, will be ridden in the Distaff by regular jockey Sophie Doyle, who will be seeking to follow in the footsteps of Julie Krone and Rosie Napravnick as the only female jockeys to win a Breeders’ Cup race. The native of England is the older sister of top British jockey James Doyle.
“I’m not sure if it’s the European style or what, but she fits this filly well. That’s how (Jockey Florent) Flo (Geroux) got the mount on I’m a Chatterbox. I thought that kind of style would really help her and it did. It’s helped this one, too. They’re a nice match.”
Wow Cat – Peter Brant and Stud Vendaval’s 2018 Breeders’ Cup Distaff runner-up and multiple G1 winner Wow Cat continues to gallop strongly at Santa Anita Park for trainer Chad Brown, leaving Barn 48 at 9:10 a.m. in tandem with G1-winning stablemate Uni and stretching out over 1¼m. The Chilean-bred enters off three winless runs in 2019, including seconds in the Shuvee) and Beldame.
Irad Ortiz Jr., who never has ridden the 5yo mare, has the mount. They will break from post six of 11.