2021 Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff Quick Sheet: Get to Know the Horses

Racing
From left to right: Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff contenders Letruska, Malathaat, and Shedaresthedevil. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Some of the country’s top fillies and mares will square off this Saturday at Del Mar in the $2 million, Grade 1 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff. A star-studded field of 11 will travel 1 ⅛ miles on dirt in their quest to become Breeders’ Cup champions.

The Distaff is one of the “original seven” Breeders’ Cup races, having been run every year since the inaugural Cup in 1984. Starting with the first winner, Hall of Famer Princess Rooney, numerous champions have won the Distaff, including Personal Ensign (1988), Zenyatta (2008), Beholder (2013 and 2016), and Monomoy Girl (2018 and 2020). Two Distaff winners went on to win Horse of the Year: Lady’s Secret in 1986 and Azeri in 2002. This year, there’s a mare that’s entered with a chance to become the third Distaff Horse of the Year champion: Letruska.

The Distaff is scheduled as the tenth race on the Breeders’ Cup Saturday card, with a scheduled post time of 7 p.m. ET.

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Let’s take a look at this year’s Distaff field.


Eclipse Sportswire

1. Private Mission (8-1)

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Baoma Corporation

Career record: 5 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $256,800

Earnings per start: $51,360

Top Equibase speed figure: 98

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Private Gift, by Unbridled

Color: Bay

Age: 3

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: A late-blooming filly, Private Mission has won graded stakes races in each of her last two starts. She won the Grade 3 Torrey Pines Stakes over Del Mar’s dirt main track in August, cruising by 6 ½ lengths in her first race around two turns. As the favorite in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 3, she once again won easily, posting a 2 ¼-length margin over stablemate As Time Goes By. Private Mission has been getting better with every start and also has a win against older horses, which none of the other 3-year-olds in the race have. However, she’s never raced at 1 ⅛ miles and her top Equibase Speed Figure is a few points below the standard of the top contenders. The Into Mischief filly will have to improve a few more points to win Saturday. Trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Flavien Prat are both seeking their first wins in the Distaff. Baffert finished second in 2017 with Abel Tasman. Prat has finished third twice and fourth once in three prior starts.

Bet Private Mission in the Breeders' Cup Distaff


Joe Labozzetta/NYRA

2. Royal Flag (8-1)

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Will Farish

Career record: 12 starts – 6 wins – 3 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $573,020

Earnings per start: $47,752

Top Equibase speed figure: 111

Pedigree: Candy Ride – Sea Gull, by Mineshaft

Color: Chestnut

Age: 5

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Talented Royal Flag has won two graded stakes this year and is a few close finishes away from having a perfect 4-for-4 record for 2021. She won the Shuvee Stakes at Saratoga in the summer and the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park in her most recent start on Oct. 10. In the Personal Ensign Stakes Presented by Lia Infiniti on Aug. 28 at Saratoga, she was a fast-closing third behind Letruska and Bonny South, and lost a photo in the Baird Doubledogdare Stakes to Bonny South at Keeneland in April. Much like stablemate Dunbar Road, this Candy Ride mare likes to sit toward the back early and make a big late move. She has posted consistently great speed figures, having not run below a 108 in her last three starts. That makes her worth a look at what should be decent odds in Saturday’s Distaff. Chad Brown has yet to win the Distaff, finishing second with Wow Cat in 2018 and third last year with Dunbar Road. Jockey Joel Rosario is also seeking his first Distaff win; he’s finished second twice (most recently aboard Close Hatches in 2013) and third twice.

Bet Royal Flag in the Breeders' Cup Distaff


Eclipse Sportswire

3. Malathaat (4-1)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Shadwell Stable

Career record: 7 starts – 6 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $1,555,150

Earnings per start: $222,164

Top Equibase speed figure: 107

Pedigree: Curlin – Dreaming of Julia, by A.P. Indy

Color: Bay

Age: 3

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Although she rarely wins in easy fashion, Malathaat finds a way to get the job done. Earlier this year, the 3-year-old prevailed in a long stretch battle with Search Results to win the Longines Kentucky Oaks by a neck. During the summer, she was on the losing end of a duel with Maracuja in the Coaching Club American Oaks but bounced back with a win over Clairiere in the Alabama Stakes. Malathaat should to sit right off the early pace in Saturday’s Distaff and she’ll try to pounce on the leaders, including favorite Letruska, as they turn for home. If Malathaat wins this race, she’ll be the fourth filly to win the Kentucky Oaks and the Distaff in the same year, joining Ashado in 2004, Untapable in 2014, and Monomoy Girl in 2018. Her dam (mother), Dreaming of Julia, was a multiple graded stakes winner who finished third in the 2012 Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Distaff twice, with the aforementioned Ashado in 2004 and Stopchargingmaria in 2015. John Velazquez teamed up with Pletcher on Ashado, and he also won in 2017 with Forever Unbridled, the first year the Breeders’ Cup was held at Del Mar.

Bet Malathaat in the Breeders' Cup Distaff


Eclipse Sportswire

4. Blue Stripe (30-1)

Jockey: Frankie Dettori

Trainer: Marcelo Polanco

Owner: Pozo de Luna

Career record: 6 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $41,882

Earnings per start: $6,980

Top Equibase speed figure: N/A

Pedigree: Equal Stripes – Blues for Sale, by Not For Sale

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements/interesting facts: The younger half-sister of 2019 Distaff winner Blue Prize earned her spot in this year’s Distaff with a win in the Gran Premio Criadores Stakes in Argentina on May 1. She rated off the leader, took control in the stretch, and held off the dramatic late surge of Soviet Catch to win by a head. Blue Stripe’s résumé in Argentina has been impressive, with two graded stakes wins and two more graded stakes placings. However, the top races in Argentina are generally not as good as the top races in the United States so this will be a significant class test for her. She also hasn’t raced since the Criadores, which took place more than six months ago. That may put her at a disadvantage compared to her more recently raced rivals. If she can pull off the upset, she’d be the fourth Argentinian-bred horse to win the Distaff, joining Blue Prize, Paseana in 1992, and Bayakoa in 1989 and 1990. Jockey Frankie Dettori has enjoyed incredible success in the World Championships, winning 14 races, but he is winless in three prior Distaff appearances.

Bet Blue Stripe in the Breeders' Cup Distaff


Eclipse Sportswire

5. Clairiere (12-1)

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Stonestreet Stables

Career record: 9 starts – 3 wins – 3 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $1,190,992

Earnings per start: $132,332

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109

Pedigree: Curlin – Cavorting, by Bernardini

Color: Bay

Age: 3

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After several near-misses in Grade 1 company, Clairiere finally broke through for her first top-level win in the Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing on Sept. 25. She raced in mid-pack in the early stages and made a big, looping move to the front, drawing away to win by 2 ½ lengths. Her other graded stakes win this year came in February at Fair Grounds, where she won the Rachel Alexandra Stakes by a neck. Since shipping to California, she’s been attracting attention with some very impressive workouts, including a four-furlong drill in 49.20 seconds at Del Mar on Oct. 31. Clairiere’s jockey, Ricardo Santana Jr., has been in the news for other reasons lately, as he’s lost 88 races in a row as of Nov. 1. Prior to his slump, he won six Grade 1 races in August and September, including the Cotillion. Santana Jr. won his first Breeders’ Cup race last year when he rode longshot Fire At Will in the Juvenile Turf Presented by Coolmore America. Steve Asmussen, who became North America’s all-time leading trainer over the summer, won the Distaff in 2014 with Untapable. Eleven 3-year-old fillies have won this race. Monomoy Girl was the most recent one to do so, in 2018.

Bet Clairiere in the Breeders' Cup Distaff


Eclipse Sportswire

6. Letruska (8-5)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Trainer: Fausto Gutierrez

Owner: St. George Stable

Career record: 22 starts – 17 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $2,236,459

Earnings per start: $101,657

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 113

Pedigree: Super Saver – Magic Appeal, by Successful Appeal

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Letruska is the star of this year’s Distaff and one of the biggest names racing on Breeders’ Cup weekend. She’s won six graded stakes races from seven starts in 2021, with her only defeat coming by a head to Shedaresthedevil in the Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Not only has she won her last five starts, she hasn’t trailed at any point of call in those races. She held on to defeat a very tough field in the Personal Ensign Stakes Presented by Lia Infiniti two races back at Saratoga, then cruised on the lead in the Oct. 10 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland last out. Letruska has very likely already locked up the Eclipse Award for champion older female and a win in the Distaff may make her the top Horse of the Year candidate. Look for her to go straight to the lead and dare the rest of the field to catch her. Irad Ortiz Jr., a three-time Eclipse Award winner, is considered by many to be the country’s top jockey. He’s looking for his first Distaff victory in this race. Fausto Gutierrez has long been one of the top trainers in Mexico, having won the Mexican Triple Crown twice. The Distaff would be his first Breeders’ Cup victory.

Bet Letruska in the Breeders' Cup Distaff


Chelsea Durand/NYRA

7. Horologist (30-1)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owners: There’s a Chance Stable, Medallion Racing, Abbondanza Racing, Parkland Thoroughbreds, Paradise Farms Corp., and David Staudacher

Career record: 26 starts – 9 wins – 4 seconds – 4 thirds

Career earnings: $942,939

Earnings per start: $36,267

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 111

Pedigree: Gemologist – Cinderella Time, by Stephen Got Even

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This New Jersey-bred mare has won two listed stakes races this year, taking the Top Flight Invitational at Aqueduct in April and the Summer Colony Stakes at Saratoga in August. Last year, she won two graded stakes races, the Molly Pitcher Stakes at Monmouth Park and the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park, and she also finished ninth in the Distaff at Keeneland. She’s yet to find the winner’s circle against graded stakes company this year, finishing second twice to Royal Flag at that level. In contrast to last year, where she usually stalked the pace, this year Horologist has tended to go to the lead early. That strategy has paid dividends so far, as she’s been no worse than second in three races where she led after the opening quarter. However, with the presence of the mighty pacesetter Letruska come Saturday, getting to the front in the Distaff might be a bit tougher than usual. The only Jersey-bred to win a Breeders’ Cup race to date is Open Mind, who won the 1988 Juvenile Fillies. Bill Mott has won the Distaff a record five times, most recently in back-to-back-to-back years with Unrivaled Belle (2010) and Royal Delta (2011 and 2012).

Bet Horologist in the Breeders' Cup Distaff


8. Shedaresthedevil (4-1)

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owners: Qatar Racing Limited, Flurry Racing Stables, and Big Aut Farms

Career record: 16 starts – 9 wins – 2 seconds – 4 thirds

Career earnings: $2,291,458

Earnings per start: $143,216

Top Equibase speed figure: 113

Pedigree: Daredevil – Starship Warpspeed, by Congrats

Color: Bay

Age: 4

Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Perhaps the main challenger to Letruska on the front end in this year’s Distaff, Shedaresthedevil has plentiful early speed that she’s employed effectively during her career. She’s won four graded stakes races in 2021, all of which have come after racing on or near the lead in the early stages. Shedaresthedevil handed Letruska her only loss of 2021 to date in the Azeri Stakes in March, but that rival turned the tables on her in the Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park in June, defeating her by 3 ¾ lengths. Over the summer, Shedaresthedevil won over Del Mar’s main track, taking the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes by 3 ¼ lengths after rating right off the pace. In Saturday’s Distaff, it’s possible that Florent Geroux will not want to challenge Letruska directly for the lead, but rather might apply some pace pressure to her inside or outside as the field races through the backstretch. Geroux and Brad Cox have teamed up to win the Distaff twice with champion Monomoy Girl in 2018 and 2020.

Bet Shedaresthedevil in the Breeders' Cup Distaff


Eclipse Sportswire

9. As Time Goes By (15-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, and Derrick Smith

Career record: 10 starts – 4 wins – 3 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $455,600

Earnings per start: $45,560

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 107

Pedigree: American Pharoah – Take Charge Lady, by Dehere

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 4

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements/interesting facts: As Time Goes By was bred for greatness from the start. She’s the daughter of Triple Crown champion American Pharoah and multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady. She did not win her first start until late last year but has more than made up for lost time this year with two graded stakes wins and two graded stakes placings. She chased stablemate Private Mission around the track in the Zenyatta Stakes last out and finished 2 ¼ lengths behind her. Although her résumé this year has been solid, it’s possible that she’s already peaked. Trainer Bob Baffert is seeking his first win in the Distaff; he finished second in 2017 with Abel Tasman, the first time the Breeders’ Cup was held at Del Mar. Jockey Luis Saez will be making his second start in the Distaff; he made a good first appearance last year when riding late-closing runner-up Valiance.

Bet As Time Goes By in the Breeders' Cup Distaff


Eclipse Sportswire

10. Marche Lorraine (30-1)

Jockey: Oisin Murphy

Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi

Owner: U. Carrot Farm

Career record: 20 starts – 8 wins – 2 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $1,805,677

Earnings per start: $90,284

Top Equibase speed figure: N/A

Pedigree: Orfevre – Vite Marcher, by French Deputy

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: No Japanese horse has won the Distaff, but Marche Lorraine will try to change that this year. She most recently won the Breeders’ Gold Cup at Mombetsu Racecourse on Aug. 12, prevailing by half a length as the odds-on favorite. She won two other stakes races earlier in the year and is considered one of the top dirt distaffers in Japan. Overall, Marche Lorraine profiles as a very interesting wild-card horse in this year’s Distaff. Yoshito Yahagi is one of the top trainers in Japan, boasting lots of success both at home and internationally. This will be his first starter in the United States. Owner U. Carrot Farm shipped Cesario to the United States for the 2005 American Oaks Invitational Stakes at Hollywood Park, which she won impressively. This will be the owner’s first American trip since that win. Irish jockey Oisin Murphy will be making his first start in the Distaff.

Bet Marche Lorraine in the Breeders' Cup Distaff


Eclipse Sportswire

11. Dunbar Road (15-1)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Peter Brant

Career record: 15 starts – 6 wins – 2 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $1,358,740

Earnings per start: $90,583

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 111

Pedigree: Quality Road – Gift List, by Bernardini

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Dunbar Road finished third in the Distaff last year at odds of 25.90-1 and was fifth in 2019. This year, the 5-year-old hasn’t won a race in four starts while finishing behind many of the horses she’ll face in Saturday’s Distaff. Dunbar Road’s best race this year came in the Personal Ensign Stakes Presented by Lia Infiniti at Saratoga on Aug. 28. After racing in last place most of the way, she rallied wide late and surged to finish fourth, less than a length behind winner Letruska. After that effort, she matched up with Letruska once again in the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 10 and was runner-up to the probable Distaff favorite, defeated by 1 ¾ lengths. Dunbar Road doesn’t have a lot of early speed, and that’s going to put her at a disadvantage compared with her rivals. That said, she’s rallied to finish somewhere in the top three several times this year and could spice up the Distaff trifecta or the superfecta at decent odds. Chad Brown, who has won the Eclipse Award four times as outstanding trainer, is seeking his first Distaff win. So, too, is jockey Jose Ortiz; he finished second in the 2018 running on Wow Cat and was aboard Dunbar Road last year when she finished third.

Bet Dunbar Road in the Breeders' Cup Distaff

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