Inside Information won the 1995 Breeders' Cup Distaff in her final start. (Photos by Horsephotos)
When Inside Information won the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, she capped an unforgettable career that earned her an induction into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2008.
Inside Information won her debut in September of 1993 by 7 ½ lengths and never finished out of the top three in 16 subsequent races.
She suffered the first of her three career losses in her following start when she finished third. The filly came back three months later in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park to start her 3-year-old season and destroyed the field, winning by seven lengths. That victory started a five-race win streak that included a 5 ½-length victory in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes and an 11-length victory in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes.
A month later, Inside Information ran in the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes but finished third, beaten by 10 1/4 lengths, an uncharacteristic defeat for the filly. However, the cause for her defeat was clear a short time later when it was discovered that she had suffered a minor injury. Trainer Shug McGaughey took his time bringing the 3-year-old back to the races, entering her in an allowance a little more than five months later. It was clear that the injury was healed when she easily beat that field by eight lengths before taking the winter off and coming back in April to win another allowance by four lengths at Keeneland Race Course.
Inside Information clearly was back to her winning ways with a smashing 5 ½-length score in the Grade 1 Shuvee Handicap, her seventh time winning a race by five lengths or more. The filly had put together another five-race winning streak and it looked like she would continue racking up the wins heading into the Ballerina Handicap that summer at Saratoga. But bad luck was about to strike once more.
Inside Information loaded into the gate as the 2-to-5 favorite with the second choice sitting at odds of 5.40-to-1. It looked like something major would have to happen for Inside Information to lose the race and that’s exactly what happened. The filly stumbled badly coming out of the starting gate and was in fifth place early on, farther back than she had ever been before. By the stretch, she was up to second but leader Classy Mirage, who had been in front the whole race, was pulling away. Classy Mirage, who went off as the second choice, pulled a shocker and won by six lengths with Inside Information 4 ½ lengths in front of third-place finisher Laura’s Pistolette.
“She went right down on her knees,” McGaughey told the New York Times. “She seemed ready, but she just outbroke herself. I thought when she made a move on the turn, she was going to get there. But then I saw they went the half in 47 seconds, and we weren't dealing with a bum or anything. Classy Mirage is a real nice filly.”
The loss seemed to make Inside Information more determined in the Ruffian Handicap the following month and she reeled off another 11-length victory, leading nearly the whole way around the track. In her final start before the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Inside Information was part of the closest finish of her career when she just held on in a stretch duel with Jade Flush to win the Spinster Stakes by a head.
While Inside Information had been sensational in many of her wins, winning all but two of her races by more than two lengths, her shining moment came in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Inside Information was content to race in fourth during the opening quarter of the race but when regular rider Mike Smith asked her to grab the lead with about five furlongs to go, she didn’t hesitate. Making it look easy, Inside Information galloped along with Lakeway about a length behind her. But while Lakeway was showing signs of tiring as the field turned into the long Belmont stretch, Smith was barely moving on Inside Information.
In the Distaff, Inside Information put in the most dominant performance of her career when registering a 13 ½-length victory over second-place finisher and stablemate Heavenly Prize.
INSIDE INFORMATION WINNING THE 1995 BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF
Video courtesy of Breeders' Cup World Championships
After the race, Inside Information was retired to Claiborne Farm where the Phipps family boards all of its mares. Retiring with 14 wins from 17 starts, Inside Information’s dominance on the track was shown by the 88 combined lengths by which she won her races. While the mare had missed out on an Eclipse award her 3-year-old year, she took one home in her 4-year-old season when she was named champion older female following her Distaff victory.
For the people at Claiborne, it was a homecoming of sorts for the filly as she was foaled at the farm for Ogden Mills Phipps.
“She was a champion race filly for Phipps, and it’s always exciting for those to come home and go on and produce good racehorses like she did with Smuggler, so it was very nice,” said Claiborne’s Bradley Purcell in a recent interview.
Inside Information visited Mr. Prospector in her first year of retirement and quickly made what looks to be a lasting impact when she produced Illicit in February of 1997. While Illicit never made it to the track, her second foal, a filly named Contentious finished second in a Group 3 race. But Illicit’s fourth foal, a colt named Gone Astray, made the biggest impact on her branch of the family when he won the Grade 2 Pennsylvania and Ohio Derbys before retiring to stud, where he currently stands in Florida.
It took a few more years for Inside Information to produce her next big horse, but she did so in a big way with the birth of the Unbridled filly Smuggler. Winning two of her three starts at two, Smuggler came back at three to win the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks, earning the Eclipse Awards as champion 3-year-old filly. After an unsuccessful 4-year-old year, Smuggler was retired and she has so far had four horses to race.
SMUGGLER DURING HER RACING CAREER
Inside Information had three foals after Smuggler and, while she was retired from breeding this year after not producing foals over the last three years, she still has one colt on the track in Secret Bid, who has raced four times in 2014.
While the champion mare was a bit tough to handle in her younger days at the farm, at 23 years of age she has settled down considerably.
“She was a tough race filly, so there were times in her younger days where she was a little tough,” Purcell said. “But she’s 23 now, so she’s kind of mellowed out and is enjoying life. She’s kind of a loner; she’ll stay off from her herd. She’ll be around them but she won’t be right up in the middle of them; she wants to keep her distance from the rest of the group.”
Fans still call to check up on Inside Information from time to time, showing how much of an influence she had on some racing fans. While fans touring Claiborne can’t visit Inside Information, Purcell says the mare is enjoying retirement from her second career.
“She’s doing well, she’s been retired. We have a retirement barn on the back of the farm that we have seven other mares back there with her, and she’s just enjoying life and taking it easy,” he said.
It’s the perfect ending to the long Hall of Fame racing and producing career of a mare who looks to impact the breed for years to come.