(Blue Prize after winning the G1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
Merriebelle Stable’s Blue Prize ($19.80) surged to the front at the eighth pole and then held off a bid from even-money favorite Midnight Bisou by 1 1/2 lengths to win the 36th running of the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff for fillies and mares Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita.
Trained by Ignacio Correas IV and ridden by Joe Bravo, Blue Prize covered the mile and one-eighth on a fast main track in 1:50.50. It is the first Breeders’ Cup victory for Correas and Bravo.
Serengeti Empress shot out to an uncontested lead with Paradise Woods, Mo See Cal and Ollie’s Candy in closest pursuit with Blue Prize and Midnight Bisou racing in seventh and eighth down the backside.
Approaching the far turn, Bravo and Blue Prize got the jump on the favorite and began reeling in horses and hit the top of the stretch making a four-wide move that got her to the front at the eighth pole. Midnight Bisou moved into second but never threatened the winner.
Fourth in the Longines Distaff last year at Churchill Downs, Blue Prize is a 6-year-old Argentine-bred daughter of Pure Prize out of the Not For Sale mare Blues for Sale (ARG). The victory was worth $1,100,000 and increased Blue Prize’s earnings to $2,692,253 with a record of 23-10-8-3. It is her third Grade 1 victory.
Winning trainer Ignacio Correas, IV (Blue Prize (ARG)) – “She’s so unique. She was thriving. But it’s difficult to say when you have a filly like Midnight Bisou in there. She had been facing champion after champion in the last two months. It’s not about my level of satisfaction, it’s about the filly. She has beaten Elate and Midnight Bisou in two months, what else do you want to ask of a horse? She’s a champion and all the credit is for her. We have been blessed to have her. It’s been a great ride. We have great owners who let us plan and execute. But it’s all about this filly. It was about the way she needed to run, 4-5 lengths off the pace.”
Winning jockey Joe Bravo (Blue Prize (ARG)) – “The trip was great. She broke a little slower than I expected, but she was moving up on the backside nice. I looked over and saw Mike Smith kind of asking Midnight Bisou a little soon. Blue Prize was really running her race. When we turned for home, she went on with it.”
Second-place trainer Steve Asmussen (Midnight Bisou, beaten favorite) – “Nothing Midnight Bisou does for us is disappointing. She had a tremendous amount to overcome with all the dirt she took early. A quality filly best her and got first run on her around the turn. It took Mike (Smith) quite a bit to get her out it that just left her too much to do. The filly came back completely covered (in dirt) and she’s such a champion that she never gave up. She continued to run and I’m unbelievably proud of her. She’s unbelievable. There is no give up in her. For her to keep coming under those circumstances is unbelievable because around the turn she looked hopeless. But, she just showed her class. She kept coming.”
Second-place jockey Mike Smith (Midnight Bisou, beaten favorite) – “It would have been nice to have been in the clear and taken a long run at it. I was bottled up. It’s hard to do on this track right now. The kickback is awful. I’m covered. She took a lot of it, where the winner was clear and got a good long run on me. It’s just hard to come back and catch them on this track right now. It’s safe, which is a good thing, it’s the main thing, but it’s hard to make up ground.”
During the race did you realize it was going to be tough: “Yes. Going into the far turn she had already had enough of that kickback and was struggling a bit. But, she’s just got so much class. When I finally got her out she took another big breath and gave it a go. She tried hard. I was proud of her.”
Third-place trainer Tom Amoss (Serengeti Empress) – “I feel much better after that. Very proud of my horse. Those are two very talented older mares who beat her. I’m very proud of my horse like I said and we’ll be back next year.”
Third-place jockey Flavien Prat (Serengeti Empress) – “She’s a filly that likes to be in front. We made the lead from a difficult outside post and she relaxed very nice for me. We just got best by two very good older mares. She ran very well.”
Trainer Chad Brown (Dunbar Road, fifth and Wow Cat, seventh) – “Both horses seemed to be struggling with the track. The jockeys got back to me and said they were climbing a bit and were never really involved. Dunbar Road made an admirable effort and we were able to pick up some pieces. Jose (Ortiz) said, as Irad (Ortiz Jr.) did, that they never really got ahold of the track. Dunbar Road will head down to Florida and point to next year and Wow Cat is in the Fasig-Tipton sale.”