The Empire Distaff ($250.000 Purse)
BEL- For Fillies and Mares Three Years Old and Upward Foaled In NY
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Dirt
October 30, 2021
With a week to go before the Breeder’s Cup, most of the excitement in virtual racing centers around what we might see at DMR over that weekend. That does not mean that we still don’t have good races going right now, and at BEL we see plenty of good opportunities for New York breds. The Empire Distaff runs for the seventh time on Saturday, and the purse level returns to the $250.000 amount that it was in 2019 and years previous. Estero Farms won the race last year with Spy On Hollywood, but it would be the last time she would win a stake. She’d get a couple of allowance wins before being retired. We’ll have six in the race this year, and here is a run through the field.
#1- Retrospect (Mb Stables, ridden by Ru Gonzalez)- Broke her maiden in her sixth career start, coming at SAR in July. She had always been good prior to that race, so the trainer had plenty of confidence to enter her in the $200.000 Fleet Indian off of that. She’d be third, but also missed by six lengths. Retrospect will have to find out a way to make them up, because she sees the Fleet Indian winner, Aligned, again.
#2- Soviet Sensation (Mb Stables, ridden by A Cedillo)- This filly had a good spring, winning the GP Oaks, which would send her off to the KYO. However, Soviet Sensation would be a non-factor in that race, as well as the Acorn a month later. After winning an allowance, she managed a couple third place runs in graded stakes but we still haven’t seen the same Soviet Sensation as we saw at the beginning of the year.
#3- Starship Qanon (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by J Alvarado)- A winner of three races over her 12 races, but none of them have come in the stakes that she has attempted. A few of those are NY-bred stakes like this one, and she did run second in the $75.000 NY Oaks. Attempts at graded races, both on the dirt and on the turf have not netted a penny of earnings for the trainer. May be good enough to get some of that here, but I wouldn’t put her on top.
#4- Hot Summer (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by E Jaramillo)- She started her career being quite hot, earning a spot in the BC Juvenile Fillies, and would end up running second in that, missing the headbob at the wire. After that, she continued to get results, winning in the Demoiselle and running second in the FG Oaks before eventually getting in the KYO. However, she has not won since the Demoiselle in December but was still running decently enough until her last two races. This isn’t the Alabama and it’s not a sprint, so maybe lesser competition from that will be very good for her.
#5- Aligned (Smokey Stover, ridden by J R Velazquez)- Aligned has had a fantastic career, running off a streak of nine straight in the money finishes after her debut race, and most of those were top twos. Two of them were NY-bred stakes, including the NY Oaks at FL as well as the Fleet Indian at SAR in late August. Everything seemed to be great for her to make a graded debut, and in the Grade 1 Spinster she simply did not show up. Likely, she was beaten out of the gate, but she did not make much progress at all during the race. Is that a throw out? The trainer must think so, with the quick bounce back here. Look for this filly to align her career back to normal.
#6- Speedy Ginger (The Sidley Stud, ridden by D Davis)- This is the veteran of the group, as the five year old mare will be making her 31st career start. She’s also the only non-three year old in the race, so this will give her a three pound weight disadvantage to everyone else. Over her career, she has managed ten wins, and many of them were earlier in her career. In 2021, she’s won once, which was an allowance at HAW, but since then she has been in the top four in three graded races, so expect her to be competitive here.