Breeders' Cup Distaff notes: Abel Tasman gets her footing

Breeders' Cup Notes Team
October 31, 2018 03:21pm

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff runners went to the track at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning for routine gallops.

Abel Tasman, who won the 2017 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill with a last-to-first rally in the mud, covered one mile under exercise rider Dana Barnes. Second in last year’s Distaff, Abel Tasman shipped from California to Kentucky Tuesday. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith and Abel Tasman will start from post two in the Distaff.

Vale Dori covered 1 ¼ miles for rider Jose Contreras.

In his first mount on the 6-year-old mare, Joe Talamo rode Vale Dori to a surprise victory in the Zenyatta -- she was 11-1 -- Sept. 30 at Santa Anita, snapping a six-race losing streak. Talamo, 28, returns for his third career start in the Distaff. They will start from post eight.

Vale Dori is an Argentinian-bred and started her career there in 2015. She made two starts in Dubai in 2016 before being sent to Baffert. The front-running daughter of Asiatic Boy won seven of eight starts, including six in a row, during a stretch for Baffert in 2016-2017, but then could not find her way to the winner’s circle.

She has won 10 of 21 starts and his hit the board 18 times in her four-year career, but can be her own worst enemy.

“Vale Dori is very temperamental,” Baffert said. “We can take her to the gate in the morning and she’s perfect. On race day she dances in there and rocks back and forth, gets left and when she gets behind horses she just doesn’t run. The break is the whole key.

“This is a tough group, but she’s got a lot of class and she likes to win. She’s won a lot of races.” 

Wonder Gadot  Trainer Mark Casse reports that Gary Barber’s 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is in the best condition of her career. She has been so energetic that he made a slight modification to her training schedule Wednesday. 

Instead of going during the 7:30 time slot reserved for Breeders’ Cup entrants, Wonder Gadot was on the track a little after 5 a.m. when the scene is more serene. The previous day she put a series of joyful leaps into her gallop with regular exercise rider Chris Garraway aboard.

“Her flying through the air might have been fun for everyone to watch but not for me,” Casse said. “She behaved a little better today.”

Casse continues to be amazed at her exuberance that has produced a $1,492,461 bankroll with a 5-4-4 record in 15 starts.

“She has more energy now that I have ever seen,” he said. “She is going to jog on Thursday. She puts so much into her gallops that she does her leaping. Her rider told me that she loves Churchill Downs like nowhere else.”

Midnight Bisou  Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing’s multiple Grade 1 winner Midnight Bisou galloped nine furlongs Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs with trainer Steve Asmussen watching the Distaff runner on horseback. She will be making her fifth start for the six-time Breeders’ Cup-winning conditioner after making her first six starts with California-based Bill Spawr, including a troubled third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks over the Distaff’s course and distance.

“She has accepted what we’ve tried to do with her and it really couldn’t have been any smoother,” Asmussen said. “We were able to witness her for a couple weeks, 10 days or so, before the (Kentucky) Oaks with Bill Spawr and we continued that program and I thought it went pretty seamlessly.

“A tremendous amount is on the line in the Distaff and she’s still in the mix.”

Monomoy Girl The Kentucky Oaks winner and morning-line Distaff favorite Monomoy Girl galloped once around the Churchill oval with exercise rider Mario Garcia aboard. With the threat of rain later in the morning, trainer Brad Cox sent the filly to the track with his third set, ahead of the 7:30 time allotted for Breeders’ Cup.

“She was very aggressive,” Cox said. “She was moving great. She’s been that way for a while now. She couldn’t be doing any better.”

Cox enters Wednesday with 990 career victories and now has the 1,000-win milestone in his crosshair. It could be a huge week for Cox, who has 16 horses entered over the next five days, including four in Breeders’ Cup races. In addition to Monomoy Girl, he’ll saddle Arklow in the Longines Turf, Will Call in the Turf Sprint and Golden Mischief in the Filly & Mare Sprint.   

“It’s been a good run,” Cox said. “Very proud of the team we have. That’s what it’s all about – get a good team in place. That’s what we have.”


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