Shippers bring top credentials
ARCADIA, Calif. – Advantage, home team. Seven fillies and mares from California and three from Kentucky and New York are among a projected field of 10 for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 3 at Del Mar.
Though they are outnumbered, the shippers will arrive with fitting credentials – Romantic Vision, Forever Unbridled, and Elate all won Grade 1’s last out.
Kentucky-based trainer Rusty Arnold confirmed this week that Romantic Vision will make the final start of her career in the Distaff after running the best race of her career on Sunday, winning the Spinster Stakes over a sloppy track at Keeneland.
Romantic Vision joins Kentucky-based Forever Unbridled, the multiple Grade 1 winner with seven wins on seven tracks. She worked six furlongs in 1:14.20, breezing, Tuesday at Churchill Downs for trainer Dallas Stewart. Forever Unbridled ships on Oct. 30.
Elate, based in New York with five-time Distaff-winning trainer Bill Mott, won her last two starts by open lengths – the Alabama and Beldame. Elate is one of six 3-year-olds aiming to the Distaff, along with California-based Abel Tasman, It Tiz Well, Paradise Woods, Champagne Room, and Mopotism.
Stellar Wind, early favorite for the Distaff, will have a gap in published works, but the 5-yearold’s training was not interrupted. She worked six furlongs Sunday at 6:30 a.m. in fog so thick the work was unseen. Trainer John Sadler considered postponing the work, but forged ahead with exercise rider Jose Contreras in the irons.
“If I did not have that rider, I don’t know that I would have worked her,” Sadler said. “He has a stopwatch on his wrist, so he’s really good with the times. I said go 1:14 and change. She went in 1:14.”
The Santa Anita main track produces slow times. How did Stellar Wind look? “We were at the wire, and saw her outworking her company by two or three lengths,” Sadler said. “Regardless of the time, she looked good at the wire.”
Abel Tasman, the Kentucky Oaks winner, drilled a half-mile in 48.60 seconds on Monday as trainer Bob Baffert works on putting her weight back on.
“Like a lot of horses at Del Mar, she got a little light on me,” Baffert said, noting that the filly was light when shipped to Parx for the Grade 1 Cotillion last month.
Abel Tasman ran off mid-race in the Cotillion and finished second behind It Tiz Well.
The Distaff had a key defection last week. Vale Dori, a Grade 1 winner and runner-up twice by a neck to Stellar Wind, will skip the BC and aim for a winter campaign.
Trainer Doug O’Neill confirmed this week the stakes winner Mopotism will target the Distaff. She finished fourth in the Cotillion last out.
Probable starters for the Distaff, in order of preliminary odds: Stellar Wind, Victor Espinoza; Forever Unbridled, Joel Rosario; Elate, Jose Ortiz; Abel Tasman, Mike Smith; It Tiz Well, Drayden Van Dyke; Paradise Woods, Flavien Prat; Champagne Room, Mario Gutierrez; Romantic Vision, Brian Hernandez; Faithfully, Rafael Bejarano; and Mopotism, who was ridden by Gutierrez last out.