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Breeders Cup Distaff preview

The self-proclaimed world championship of thoroughbred racing, the Breeders' Cup, takes place in California this weekend at the stunning Santa Anita racecourse. A true world championship it isn't, but it's still high class racing. Whenever there's top grade US racing on the programme, then blog regular Jon da Silva is usually the man to cover it. You can follow him @CreamOnTop.

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Breeders Cup Distaff
9 Furlongs Dirt

Keep an eye on the dirt track on the night. Last year it appeared to favour speed although a bit like commentator's momentum it only needs 1 performance to make such a notion ridiculous. I'm gambling it is a fast but fair surface and excludes the plodders - as it should.

Filly and Mare racing's premier dirt event now has reverted to its original name of Distaff from the rather bland Ladies Classic. I confess when I first followed racing in the US to having no idea what a Distaff was and actually only looked it up now I am writing about it.

noun
1.
a stick or spindle on to which wool or flax is wound for spinning.
2.
of or concerning women.

The 2nd version appears pertinent here although the former hints at sexist origins.

Mercifully this is a race with at least three champions so no demeaning is needed. Essentially we have here is Close Hatches beat Princess of Sylmar who beat Beholder and Royal Delta who beat Authenticity all ends up etc etc. We have two pace horses, two pack animals and two closers. Six runners - five Ladies and a Hooker.

Street Girl
Lives up to her name. Relatively looks like a working girl turning up to her Ivy League school reunion here form wise. Improving sort who has some sort of shot just because she is a hold up and there is a chance of a burn up. Needs to find 15 pounds or far more if formful. Beaten by Close Hatches in the Cotillion (8.5F) but was closing in that and the Ballerina (7F) so could improve for the distance. Would not be a jump off the stand result but not far off.

Authenticity
and she is a live outsider. Second in the Zen Yaaa Taaaaaaaa to Beholder and royally thumped by Royal Delta in the Personal Ensign receiving weight. Putting up her best ratings age six but would need race to fall her way from a stalking trip which is not out of the question.

Close Hatches
went to the Kentucky Oaks after a win over Princess of Sylmar. Never got into that race that day but has bounced back with a 211 record in 3 grade ones - Fillies Grade 1s like talent shows too many IMHO so good but not necessarily Thornbridge Jaipur* good. Timeform US Speed Ratings make her marginal with 3yo allowance with Authenticity of the stalkers.

* Beer of the Gods

Royal Delta
until the Beldame it seemed only Tapeta and flying to Dubai could dent this one. However running marginally below her best she was bettered by Princess of Sylmar there. You can argue it was prep and if she gets loose on the lead here she'll defend her title. That overall she still has most of the top 10 ratings in this field. That at 5 no reason to consider her below peak. Doubts include after a post Dubai loss she came off Lasix and speed ratings good but down since - Lasix can be said to improve a horse a few pounds as it will carry less water in its system never mind less likely to bleed in the lungs. I hope she bounces back but with a real speedster against her 2/1 may be called the right price. Defending champ over same course and distance.

Beholder
Produced a stunning two year old rating over a sprint trip before a more mundane performance in winning the Juvenile Filles here last year. Narrow 2nd to the Princess in the Oaks showed this distance on this take off strip not forlorn. Chance she gets an easy lead but chance Royal Delta goes after her. Only two runs since the Oaks and looks laid out for this. Can make a case less pace pressure here and she will be stronger against Princess of Sylmar than the Oaks.

Princess of Sylmar
The Hide and seek game is over and she runs. Looked visually much the best in the Beldame besting the Queen [Royal Delta]. Since losing the Gazelle to Cross Hatches she is 1111 in four Grade 1s. She has wins over her two closest rivals. They could well set it up for her and she won the Beldame without the need for scorching fractions to reduce Royal Delta. Seems laid out with a nice break and prep after winning two at Saratoga yet apparently connections ummhed and ahhed which is only negative for me. Was 38/1 in the Oaks and frankly could still be unexposed to a degree.

Conclusion

I would not dispute anyone looking at Authenticity or even Close Hatches as having a chance but they are not close in reality if the race is fair run. You can argue either of Beholder or Royal Delta gets the front they may hang on if the track is lightening. However for me the best Filly this year is Princess of Sylmar and I expect her to roll which will give me some money for the Street Girl later.

Princess of Sylmar 5/2

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