Breeders’ Cup Updates: A Look at the Distaff

(Midnight Bisou / Holly M. Smith)

From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:

Blue Prize – Merriebelle Stable’s Blue Prize galloped 1 1/2m under exercise rider Hiram Rosario shortly before 8 o’clock as she continued her preparations for a second run in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff going 1 1/8m.

Last year at Churchill Downs, Blue Prize finished fourth in the Distaff trailing champion Monomoy Girl by 1 ½ lengths after breaking from post 10 in the 11-horse field under Joe Bravo.

On Saturday, Bravo will be back aboard and Blue Prize will break from post 11 in the 11-horse field.

“Well, we know the speed is inside of us; everybody is inside of us,” trainer Ignacio Correas IV said with a laugh. “It is a mile track and you get a good run into the first turn. I thought it was bad last year in the Spinster (at Keeneland) when she had the 11 hole and she still won.”

Blue Prize repeated in the Spinster on Oct. 6 defeating Breeders’ Cup Classic bound Elate and Distaff rival Dunbar Road.

Dunbar Road – At approximately 7:45 a.m., Peter Brant’s Dunbar Road, winner of the prestigious Alabama at Saratoga this year, left Barn 48 and had an easy gallop of the Santa Anita main track. The $350,000 Keeneland September 2017 purchase enters the Distaff as one of multiple fillies with a chance to sew up a year-end 3yo filly championship with a victory in the 9f race.

 La Force – Roberta and Will Williford and Chuck Winner’s La Force galloped 1 1/2m early Tuesday morning at Santa Anita.

Winner of the Santa Margarita here in June, La Force will break from post eight under Drayden Van Dyke in her second Distaff bid. She was eighth in the Distaff last year at Churchill Downs.

 Midnight Bisou – Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff favorite and Horse of the Year candidate Midnight Bisou walked the shedrow of Barn 59 Tuesday morning. The Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing-owned 4yo filly worked 4f in 50 4/5 Monday. She will break from post four in the starting gate for trainer Steve Asmussen.

“She’s good today,” said Scott Blasi, assistant trainer. “She walked the shedrow. We’re just keeping her happy.”

 Mo See Cal Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen’s five-time winner Mo See Cal had a routine gallop of 1m at San Luis Rey Downs for trainer Peter Miller.

 Ollie’s Candy  Ollie’s Candy brings a quiet consistency to the table as she attempts to upset a group that includes multiple Grade 1 winner and Horse of the Year candidate, Midnight Bisou.

The daughter of Candy Ride has shown form over all three surfaces in her nine career starts, boasting wins on all-weather and dirt with a trio of runner-up efforts on the grass. Following a second-place finish in the June 22 Wilshire Stakes, Ollie’s Candy was able to break through at the highest level when she won the 1 1/16m Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar.

“She’s won on almost every surface,” said trainer John Sadler, who took over conditioning Ollie’s Candy this year from Bill Morey. “She’s won on (the all-weather) because she started out at Golden Gate so she can run a lot of different races. We put her on the dirt and she ran so big that we kept her on the dirt. I think she actually likes dirt a little bit better.”

Ollie’s Candy galloped 1m over the Santa Anita main track Tuesday morning with exercise rider Juan Leyva in the irons.

Paradise Woods – Paradise Woods returned to the track after working 5f in 1:00 flat Sunday, galloping and schooling at the gate Tuesday under exercise rider Cisco Alvarado.

With all five of her career wins coming at Santa Anita Park, the home-track advantage is real for the daughter of Union Rags as she readies for a start in the Distaff. In April, she earned her first victory since joining the barn of John Shirreffs when she took the Santa Margarita Stakes by 10 ½ lengths and her mercurial talent proved superior again last time out when she scored by 1 ¾ lengths in the Sept. 27 Zenyatta Stakes.

“It’s a big advantage for Paradise Woods because she likes Santa Anita,” said Shirreffs, who won the Distaff in consecutive years with Zenyatta in 2008 and Life Is Sweet in 2009. “Some of her best races have been at Santa Anita. How it goes in general for everyone else, other Breeders’ Cup horses, well these horses are at the top of their game. Many of them have shipped around and handled a lot of different tracks and surfaces. I don’t know that the home-field advantage is huge for a lot of horses but for Paradise Woods, I think it’s an advantage.”

Secret Spice Little Red Feather Racing and Bobby Flay’s Secret Spice galloped on the main track at Santa Anita Tuesday morning for trainer Richard Baltas.

Winner of the Beholder Mile here in March and runner-up to Distaff rival Paradise Woods in the Zenyatta a month ago, Secret Spice will break from post seven under John Velazquez.

Serengeti Empress – Joel Politi’s Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress left Louisville early Tuesday morning to come to Santa Anita for her run in the Distaff.

Listed at 12-1 on the morning line, Serengeti Empress will break from post position nine and be ridden for the first time by Flavien Prat.

“The draw is fine,” trainer Tom Amoss said.

In her past three starts, Serengeti Empress has drawn the rail. When she won the Kentucky Oaks, she exited post 13 in the 14-horse field.

 Street Band – The multiple stakes-winning Street Band landed at the Ontario airport shortly before 11 a.m. and made her way to Santa Anita along with trainer Larry Jones and a large contingent of Kentucky-based horses. She will have her first trip over the Santa Anita track Wednesday.

Wow Cat – At just past 8:15 a.m., nine-time winner and five-time G1 winner Wow Cat left Barn 48 in tandem with G1 winner Uni and galloped a mile on the main track for trainer Chad Brown and owners Peter Brant and Stud Vendaval. She will be looking for a bit of redemption when she lines up in the Distaff gate for a second consecutive year. At Churchill Downs last year, she steadied at the quarter pole before finishing second by one length at the wire. Last out, she was a hard-trying second in the Beldame to Distaff favorite Midnight Bisou.

“She’s training well, ran well last time and I think she will improve off that race,” Brown said. “She didn’t have a good trip or post last year.”

Saturday’s Distaff will be just her fourth race of 2019.

 

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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