One of the most exciting races of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park is the $2 million Longines Distaff on Nov. 4, a race that will feature a thrilling matchup between three reigning champions.
Songbird (#1), Stellar Wind (#5), and Beholder (#8) have combined to win five Eclipse awards, three Breeders’ Cup races, and nearly $10 million in purse money. Furthermore, they have won 35 of their 47 races and have finished in the top three 44 times, and while there are several other talented fillies and mares in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, it would be no surprise to see Songbird, Stellar Wind, and Beholder finish 1-2-3 in any order.
The tricky part is figuring out who will win. All three are so talented and accomplished that separating them is difficult. Songbird is unbeaten and unchallenged in eleven races, but has never run against older mares, and her speed figures – which attempt to measure how fast she has been running – are a little on the slow side. Stellar Wind and Beholder have been running faster while competing in tougher races, but even if you believe they’re superior to Songbird, picking one or the other is easier said than done; they’ve met three times this year, with Beholder scoring one easy win and Stellar Wind two narrow triumphs.
However, in spite of the obstacles, I believe Songbird is going to win this race. Although her speed figures are less impressive than Beholder’s and Stellar Wind’s, she has been winning with effortless ease – her smallest margin of victory is 3 ¾ lengths, and she has never been seriously challenged at any point in her career. Carina Mia tried to challenge her in the Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga last summer, but Songbird turned her back and cruised to an easy win. Carina Mia tried again in the Cotillion Stakes at in September, and Songbird won by an even larger margin.
I think Songbird has that “something special” that can’t be quantified, and I think we’ll see her step up to the task in the Longines Distaff. Drawing post position 1 should be perfect for her, as she should have no trouble sprinting to the lead and saving ground throughout the race. Furthermore, Songbird is the only true front-runner in the Distaff field; Beholder and I’m a Chatterbox (#7) also have speed, but are unlikely to try and duel with Songbird early on, which could allow Songbird to set a slow pace. With the Santa Anita main track often favoring speed during the Breeders’ Cup, this could give Songbird an advantage in a very tough race.
If you want to be a little bolder and play a longshot, I would recommend Curalina (#3). She won the La Troienne Stakes by 7 ½ lengths earlier this year, and was most recently a close second in the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga. She finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last year and has been training impressively in preparation for this race, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if she finishes in the top three again. At 12-1, she could be worth a play.
Wagering Strategy A
$20 to win on Songbird
Wagering Strategy B
$4 to win on Curalina ($4)
$8 to place/show on Curalina ($16)
Good luck, and enjoy the race!