Presenting the 2017 BC Distaff

BC Distaff (Grade 1)- $2,000.000 Purse
DMR- For Fillies and Mares Three Years Old and Upward
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
November 3, 2017

The BC Distaff, once called the Ladies Classic, is the biggest race of the year for our female stars. Many of these took the journey towards the KYO this spring, while others did so in prior years. As big as that may have been, this is where they all wanted to be. Only fourteen fillies could take part in this race, an event that has the likes of Darling Harbour and Mrs Bombastic on its winners list. As we get geared up for the race, let’s start with a trip down memory lane. After all, other then the Mrs Bombastic’s of the world, sometimes are female stars don’t get the immediate name recognition and respect that their male counterparts do.

In 2003, our virtual world was young, but it was a still active trainer today, Jerry Garcia Racing, that can lay claim to the first ever win in the race with Poisoness Monster. Only six horses made it to the starting gate in this race, showing how far this game has gone since the first run of BC events. She won eight of fourteen races over the course of her career. Her breeding career is over, and sadly, she didn’t really produce a standout.

Moving on, in 2004, one of the true greats of our game, Darling Harbour would win the race. In her career, running exclusively for Australia Wide, she would win 24 our of 47 races. Darling Harbour would win a second BC race, and impressively, that was three years later, coming in 2007 when she won the BC Sprint. In total, she amassed over $6,000.000 in career earnings. None of her foals were stand outs on the track, though she did produce Bungalow Eight, who had some success for a little while in his stud career.

In 2005, Java Jive would win the Distaff in one of the larger margins of stake history, doing so by seven lengths. Earlier in the season, she won the KYO, becoming the first horse to achieve that. Also, she would win the Acorn, and the Mother Goose in that same season, so she was truly a legendary horse. She would only race two times after the 2005 Distaff though, mainly because it seemed like after the Santa Monica Handicap a couple months later, she lost a lot of ability. Running for Wild Spirits, she accumulated over $3.000.000 in her career. As a broodmare, she produced several winners, but no major standout, though Jungle Jive had a good career.

The next season, we saw the great Halfbaked win the Distaff for trainer Serenity Stables. She would return to the race the next two years as well, but never duplicated that victory. That is a testament to her career longevity, as she earned just a shade under $6,000.000 in her career. In total, she won 18 of 36 races, showing dominant ability on both dirt and turf. Her best foal was Northern Half, who won a couple of ungraded stakes in her career.

In 2007, we had our first two-time winning trainer as Jerry Garcia won the race with Blondeinabodystockin, perhaps his best blonde that was in something. She’d win 11 of 26 in her career, but the BC Distaff proved to be her last true hurrah. She was retired the following spring. Her best foal would be Free Singer, who won an ungraded stake late in her career.

The 2008 Distaff was won by Bunny Ranch, for Fairy Tale Racing. This was a very consistent racehorse, finishing in the money in 16 of 20 career races, with six of them being wins. She was a longshot that day, going off at 28/1. None of her foals, so far, have been standouts, though she is still a possible active mare.

A year later, in 2009, we saw Better Miss get the victory for Millionaire Stables. It would be the last race for that trainer, who put her right in the auction. Axeman picked her up for $601.000, and would let her back to the Ladies Classic in 2010. She would also be part of the field in 2011 for Alydar Stables, and her racing career would last until 2012, where she picked up 18 wins in 32 starts. Out of 8 foals, none have earned at least a penny.

The next year, the most legendary filly graced us with her talent. 2010 was the year of Mrs Bombastic, a name that everyone here should know well. If it weren’t for her, Five Fives would have won the TC. Her 2010 win in the PRK for Blushing Meadows may be the most historic race in the history of the game. She didn’t last much longer for Blushing Meadows, who sold her in the auction that June for a tick over $2,000.000. It would be Ken Allen sending her to the then Ladies Classic, after winning the Cotillion for good measure. She remained strong for another year, and returned to the BC in 2011, and was retired in 2012. She’d win 14 races in 26 starts, earning a bit over $5,000.000. Sadly, she has not been successful in the shed despite being hooked up with some of the games greatest sires.

The 2011 Ladies Classic would be won by Millionaire Heiress, for Pumpkin Racing. It was part of her eleven wins in thirty career starts, and her final victory. She would continue to race into 2012 for a bit, until she began to show signs of losing form. The good news is that Millionaire Heiress becomes the first one to really pass down her legacy, but it is more in the form of how one of her foals has become a great sire. That would be Take A Million, the sire of Salt Lake City, Skhyperion, Street Baby, and Coin Flip, among others.

In 2012, TwinTowersRacing won the Ladies Classic with Golden Chance, part of her ten wins in 34 career starts. She won the race at four, and returned after her five year old season was strong, and was retired after the 2013 race. Unfortunately, she has not been successful in the shed, but if you believe she is due, she is currently available for lease by her current owner.

After watching Ken Allen win the race with Mrs Bombastic, Blushing Meadows finally was able to enjoy a victory to himself as in 2013, Shadow Of A Doubt took care of business at SA. She would race 46 times in her career, winning 13 of them, including all the way up to last month. She has been retired now, but just has the lone yearling at this point.

Next up, in 2014, Frozen Tundra added his name to the list with Sinissippi Delite’s win in the Distaff. She would race just a couple more times with that trainer, before moving on to Axeman, who has decent success with her as well for a little over a year. Overall, she won nine times in 27 starts. Her foals are young, but have not done much yet.

Two years ago, Team 7 Illusions would win the race for the first time with Lullaby Maker Tf. She’d only win one more time after that, but consistency allowed her to return to the Distaff last year, and she would be retired after the race. In total, she made 21 starts, and won eight times. Her foal Tsali, by Cherokee Sunset, is showing some potential at the moment.

And now, more recent history, in the tune of last years race. The event was won by Wicked Heat, who simply had a fascinating season last year. She’s won her last two races, including the Rodeo Drive, but will not be joining us for the Distaff. But don’t worry, because you will be seeing her in the Fillies & Mares Turf tomorrow.

A few of those who ran last year are back, so now let’s see who is going to become the 2017 winner!

#1- Notarized Kate (Pristine Stables, ridden by J R Leparoux)- After an excellent three year old season led to her finishing third in the BC Distaff last season, Notarized Kate has continued to be on good form, and may have had a better season this year when looking at the lead up into this race. She won the Santa Margertia at SA in March, getting a little payback on Wicked Heat in the process, then beat a good field at the Phipps Stakes in June, which included Way Up, Dirty Deeds, The Hanging Tree and 2013 Distaff winner Shadow Of A Doubt. Her last two races have not been as good, but the last time she was out of the money in two races in a row, would be the two races before the Distaff last year. So maybe she has them right where she wants them.

#2- Queenwood (Smokey Stover, ridden by R Bejarano)- The trainer has had a fantastic season, and Queenwood has played a large part in that. Her first six races of this year saw five wins, with the lone exception being the KYO, which we can now safely attribute to the sloppy going that day. Otherwise, Queenwood was tops in three OP prep races for the Oaks, and then would win the Grade 1 Acorn at BEL. Her last two races have seen her take on older opposition, and she comes off a third place finish in the Zenyatta, beaten by Forgotten Past and Shake It Off, though topping others. She’ll be a contender here for sure.

#3- Conspiring (Mb Stables, ridden by A A Gallardo)- This filly has been a late bloomer, and has only hit the track six times, missing out completely on the chase for the Oaks, but that doesn’t matter at all. She’d win the $200.000 Melair Stakes for CA-breds, then nicely followed that up with a win in the Grade 1 Hirsch Stakes in late July, and that’s what brought her here. Since then, she’s had a couple of head scratching duds, and that will keep me from picking her, but never doubt anything this trainer enters.

#4- Viking Vania (Delta Farms, ridden by R J Albarado)- Just beginning to make herself known at this level, and has been successful thus far. Only once, has she failed to be a part of the exacta, and once she figured out how to win, she has been even better. In her last four starts, she has won the Grade 3 IA Oaks and the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, as well as being second in the Hirsch and Cotillion, which are also Grade 1’s. Everything she has been asked to do, she has done, and while I expect her to be a very strong contender here, I think she becomes one to really watch next year. She should be among the favorites.

#5- Way Up (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- Almost became a BC Distaff winner last year, but her fantastic effort saw her come up short in a photo against Wicked Heat. She is back now, and has had the best season of her career this year. It has allowed her career innings to go over $2,000.000. I felt some of her earlier victories/races this year were impressive and should not be overlooked now just because they were a while ago, as they came when she was at a weight disadvantage as well. Gutierrez has been a regular rider now for her last ten races and that can mean a lot in a race like this. I think she’s going to get the job done!

#6- Forgotten Past (Mb Stables, ridden by J J Castellano)- The second of three entries the trainer has for the race as they look to forget their Distaff past and win this race for the first time. It’s probably the biggest race that the trainer has not yet won. She’s had a great year, with three wins in eight starts, and being in the money in all but one of them. She has not always been running against the quality of field she faces here today with every race, but her win in the Grade 1 Zenyatta last month should silence any doubts about that.

#7- Shake It Off (Our Athletes, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- Speaking of the Zenyatta, that race’s second place finisher is also in the field as Shake It Off returns to the Distaff for the second year. Last year, she was excellent around the KYO time, which included a 3rd place run in that race. More recently, she started off 2017 on the right foot by winning the Grade 2 Santa Maria at SA in February. However, she has not won since, although she has not been bad either. Consistent runs, like the aforementioned run in the Zenyatta, or her third place finish in the Grade 1 Hirsch in the race before that, shows that she is still in good form and knows how to be near the front at the end.

#8- Blackberry (Our Athletes, ridden by M E Smith)- Like her stablemate right next to her, Blackberry has finished third in the KYO, but did so this year as opposed to last year. She also has BC experience from last year, having run in the Juvenile Fillies, but was not a contender in the race. After running well in the KYO, Blackberry looked good in winning the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at PIM on PRK day, and then Grade 2 Mother Goose at BEL in July. All was seeming well. But what’s happened in the last two races? Two consecutive last place runs do race concern about her here.

#9- Dreaming of Lys (Angelos Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- This EL Gran Broomstick filly has won six of 12 so far in her career, two them being graded stake wins, with a third victory being a triumph two weeks ago in the $250.000 Empire Distaff against three other NY-breds. Those graded wins were in Grade 3’s, so there could be some concern that she has not quite faced a field like she has seen today. If this was anything other then the BC, I would say that she had earned the chance, but the BC Distaff is a tough assignment.

#10- Whispering Nurse (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- I give immediate props to anyone that wins the Grade 1 Cotillion, even if this year’s race was a little lighter then last year’s Cotillion which was a complete Distaff preview. There’s a lot to like about her, but we’ll start with the fact that she seems to be peaking right now. Prior to the Cotillion win, she was second in the Grade 1 Alabama, though won the Grade 1 CCA Oaks, each held at SAR. Prior to that, she ran second in the $500.000 WO Oaks, for Canadians. What also impresses me is overall consistency, in that she has hit the board in all eleven starts, and all but one as been as part of the exacta. Leaning her way, but I seem to jinx this trainer when I pick his horses.

#11- Heart Nebulae (SamIam, ridden by L S Quinonez)- The four year old filly has won five of her 17 career starts, though just one of her six in 2017. The victory occurred in the Grade 3 Matron Stakes at BEL in May. Since then, a lighter race schedule might have helped, as even though the wins aren’t there, she did run well in both the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at the Spa, and Grade 1 Beldame at BEL. She’s due, and very capable. Was a part of the BC Distaff last year, and made up ground late to finish in the middle of the field.

#12- Musical Treat (Mb Stables, ridden by J Talamo)- This is probably the entry that gives Mb his best shot at winning the Distaff for the first time. Musical Treat has been a highly effective filly this year, winning four of her seven races for 2017, and overall has gone six for eleven. A win in the SUN Oaks back in March allowed her to run in the KYO, and on the sloppy race track day, she was never a factor. She raced better in the Grade 1 Acorn a month later. After that race, we began to see a tactical change with her, as she showed more interest in getting involved early, and that led to better results, which included a win at the Grade 1 Alabama. She’s good, but so is everyone else.

#13- Dirty Deeds (Aer Stables, ridden by J Alvarado)- The trainer was about as unlucky as one can possibly be when it comes to the post draw for this race, as he will have both of the outer races. At least, he knows he has a couple of talented fillies that can overcome it. Dirty Deeds ran last year in the Distaff, and should do better in this years race. She’s won twice in 2017, taking the La Troienne (Grade 1) at CD in May, and then her most recent start, triumphing in the Grade 1 Beldame. Dirty Deeds finds a way to be close at the end, and she should do the same here.

#14- K T D (Aer Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- On the far outside is the reigning champion of the KYO, and will seek to make it two years in a row that the Oaks winner went on to win the Distaff. She followed up that race nicely in the Grade 1 Acorn, where she second at BEL that day, but the last couple races have been a little disappointing, especially the Alabama at SAR. There was probably a reason for that, and she bounced back with a far better showing in the Cotillion. K T D is due to return to the winner’s circle, but to do so from this post will probably mean she has to run the best race of her career, and don’t think that is quite going to happen.

Prediction: 5-10-1-4

— NS



Categories: BC 2017, Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES, The Breeders' Cup

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