In futures markets offshore for the 1 1/8-mile Breeders’ Cup Distaff on dirt, Letruska is trading no higher than 9-5. Next up is 3-year-old filly champion-in-waiting Malathaat, who is tabbed at 11-2, followed at 8-1 by Shedaresthedevil and Private Mission.
Letruska, a former champion in Mexico, is in the midst of a campaign rarely matched in modern times for trainer Fausto Gutierrez. The daughter of Super Saver has racked up six wins in seven starts this year, which includes four Grade 1 tallies, with her lone defeat being a head loss to Shedaresthedevil in the Azeri (G2) in March.
This past Sunday, Letruska continued her winning ways for owner-breeder St. George Stable with a gate-to-wire victory in the Spinster Stakes (G1) at Keeneland. She has the Eclipse Award for older dirt female locked up no matter what happens in the Distaff, but a win at Del Mar could propel her to Horse of the Year honors as well.
The last female to win Horse of the Year was Havre de Grace in 2011. She was the third straight filly or mare Horse of the Year after Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Zenyatta in 2010.
In this year’s Distaff, Letruska is projected to face both familiar foes and new faces that include Malathaat plus fellow 3-year-olds Private Mission and Clairiere. All three sophomores are among the top betting choices in futures markets.
In four starts this year, Malathaat has earned wins in the Ashland (G1), Kentucky Oaks and Alabama (G1), with her lone defeat being a second in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). The Curlin filly will run in the Distaff after a 10-week break, as her most recent start was in the Alabama on Aug. 21 for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.
Clairiere has been beaten twice this year by Malathaat (Kentucky Oaks, Alabama), but is coming off her first Grade 1 win in the Sept. 25 Cotillion (G1) for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
Trainer Bob Baffert has won 17 Breeders’ Cup races in his Hall of Fame career but never a Distaff. Only one horse has hit the board, runner-up Abel Tasman in 2017 at Del Mar behind winner Forever Unbridled. Baffert is pointing to this year's edition the ascending Private Mission and Grade 2 winner As Time Goes By, who most recently ran 1-2 in the Zenyatta Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.
Trainer Chad Brown, who has won 15 Breeders’ Cup races but never a Distaff, has a pair of contenders in Royal Flag and Dunbar Road. Royal Flag won last Sunday’s Beldame (G2) at Belmont Park, and Dunbar Road – fifth in the 2019 Distaff and third last year – was runner-up to Letruska in the Spinster when rallying from second-to-last place.
Below is a listing of Distaff contenders with the best odds from a survey of international bookmakers.
|Letruska||9-5||Won 6 of 7, all in graded stakes, with 4 Grade 1s|
|Malathaat||11-2||Presumed 3YO filly champ; won 3 of 4, including Ky. Oaks|
|Shedaresthedevil||8-1||Won 4 of 5, all in graded stakes, including 2 Grade 1s|
|Private Mission||8-1||Lightly raced; 2 graded wins, including the G2 Zenyatta|
|Royal Flag||9-1||In 3 starts this year, won the Shuvee and Beldame|
|Clairiere||10-1||Earned breakthrough win in G1 Cotillion most recently|
|Bonny South||14-1||Grade 1-placed behind Letruska in Phipps, Personal Ensign, Spinster|
|As Time Goes By||18-1||Regally bred; Won G2 Santa Margarita, 2nd in Zenyatta|
|Blue Stripe||25-1||Automatic qualifier from Argentina; working in California|
|Horologist||40-1||9th in last year's Distaff; 2nd in Beldame most recently|
|Dunbar Road||**||Winless in 4 starts this year; exits a 2nd in the Spinster|
|Army Wife||**||2-time graded winner this year; 3rd in the G1 Cotillion|
** No odds posted by bookmakers