Breeders’ Cup Race Previews and Picks
by Mike Bench
All week long on Danonymous Racing, we’ll have picks & analysis for all 13 Breeders’ Cup races from the Danonymous cast. Here, Mike Bench covers a short but fantastic field in the Distaff. Good luck to everyone playing along!
Take it away, Mike!
2012- Royal Delta
The feature race of the first day of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships comes with the $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Run at 1 ⅛ miles, the Distaff is a race with an illustrious roll of honor, including multiple wins by Royal Delta and Beholder. The trainers of those two tremendous mares have two of the principles in the 2017 edition. Bill Mott sends out second choice Elate while Richard Mandella sends out Paradise Woods. Both look to be in with a good chance to give their respective trainers yet another Distaff win.
This year’s edition has a field of 8, the smallest of any event, and is led by wonderful mare Stellar Wind. She is 3 for 3 this year, with her current season punctuated by a repeat victory in the Clement L. Hirsch over the Del Mar racetrack. The John Sadler trained mare looks to have a great chance for the third start in this race to be the charm, but we are going to look in another direction for the victory.
#7 PARADISE WOODS (9/2 ML) looks to be the only horse in here that prefers to do her running on the lead. This means that Flavien Prat will be able to dictate the terms on top and when this three year old filly is able to do that, she has proven very tough to beat. In the Santa Anita Oaks, she arguably turned in the finest performance by any sophomore filly this year when she blitzed the field by double digits. Left in her wake were Abel Tasman and It Tiz Well, subsequent first two finishers of the Cotillion Stakes. Her race in the Zenyatta last month made the abomination at Del Mar look like an aberration and though she did not beat much, she did so in the fashion that you like to see. I am willing to give her a chance in this race at a good price since she has run figures fastest in this event when on the terms that she is likely to get today.
#2 STELLAR WIND (5/2 ML) is as honest as it gets. 10 for 15 lifetime, 2nd in the Breeders Cup Distaff in 2015, 4th last year, looks to finally break through on the third attempt. Her figures are tops in this field as she has been dueling with Bob Baffert’s fine mare Vale Dori, who is not in this spot. Victor Espinoza has been riding her more aggressively in races this year and he will need to do that again in order to not let Paradise Woods get too far away. However, in the races that she has contested at today’s distance, Espinoza has ridden her very conservatively, almost as if to get the distance. That concerns me if the leader gets loose as she is the type that needs to be stoked up early in her races. If Paradise Woods cannot stay the distance however, she should be able to get first crack. That lack of kick however, could lead her susceptible to be snipered late from the back.
#5 ELATE (3/1 ML) could be the one from the back to sniper them. She has gotten really good through the summer and turned in a great performance in the Beldame when expected to win at 30 cents on the dollar. She won the Alabama over subsequent Cotillion winner It Tiz Well with a very professional style that suggested that the penny had dropped on this filly. This filly was arguably best in the CCA Oaks against Abel Tasman and think she is certainly better than her now. Royal Delta and Unrivaled Belle have given Bill Mott three wins in this race the last 10 years and fits a similar pattern prepping with a victory in the Beldame. Looks like another threat in what should be a terrific race.