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Breeders' Cup 2017

Qualia, Spacy Tracy Meet in Distaff

Spacy Tracy and Qualia, who faced each other at Aqueduct Racetrack in November, return to the Big A to compete in Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Handicap.


A Mercedes Stables homebred, Spacy Tracy capped a three-race win streak when she took Aqueduct’s Grade 2 Top Flight Handicap in November by three-quarters of a length, with Qualia finishing two lengths behind the winner in third. Sent to Oaklawn Park for the winter, Spacy Tracy breezed five times prior to finishing last of seven in the Grade 3 Azeri at Oaklawn Park on March 19.


“The Top Flight was at the end of the year, and it was a good time to give her a break,” said Tony Dutrow, who trains the 6-year-old mare. “She got tired in the Azeri, but she has been continuing to train well.”


While Spacy Tracy has not sprinted since she finished second in a five-furlong turf allowance at Parx Racing in September, Dutrow believes the Distaff’s seven-furlong distance will not be a problem for the daughter of Awesome Again.


“She performed brilliantly in the Top Flight, and she seems to relish the main track at Aqueduct,” said Dutrow. “We don’t think the distance will be an issue whatsoever. She’s ready to run, and we’re feeling great about her chances at seven furlongs.”


Jeremy Rose has the assignment aboard Spacy Tracy, who will leave from post position 4 as the 117-pound highweight and 3-1 morning-line second choice.


Marc Keller’s Qualia, second by a head in the Grade 3 Bed o’ Roses Handicap at Belmont Park in July, finished eighth after her saddle slipped in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga Race Course in August, with Bed o’ Roses winner Rightly So drawing off to score by four lengths.


Following a fourth in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont in September, Qualia’s connections attempted to run her in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, but she did not draw into the race off the also-eligible list. Instead, Qualia competed in the Top Flight at a distance trainer Bobby Ribaudo admits might have been beyond her range.


“Qualia had a very busy year last year,” said Ribaudo. “She was supposed to go the Breeders’ Cup but was on the ‘AE’ list, so we waited for the Top Flight. By the time we got to the Top Flight, she had been in training for over a year.”


With that in mind, Ribaudo decided to freshen Qualia over the winter, with the 5-year-old daughter of Saarland turning in eight workouts at Gulfstream Park in anticipation of a comeback start in the Distaff.


“Everything has been scheduled with this race in mind,” said Ribaudo. “Coming from the warm weather to the cold weather is often a plus. Six and a half [furlongs] probably would have been ideal for her return, with six being too tough. We’ll just take every race as they come. We have the entire year in front of us.”


Alex Solis will ride Qualia, who drew post position 3 as the 7-2 morning-line third choice and was assigned 115 pounds.


Also returning from a layoff is Gem Inc.’s Nicole H, who is 3-1-0 in five starts over conventional dirt since being transferred to Mike Hushion’s barn after beginning her career over the all-weather and the turf in California. In her two most recent starts, Nicole H won the Garland of Roses on December 4 and the Interborough on January 1, winning each inner track heat by 2 ½ lengths over eventual Broadway heroine Meese Rocks.


“We just gave her some time off to build a foundation for more important races this year,” said Hushion. “She certainly does everything like a good one.”


While Nicole H has never raced beyond six furlongs in her five starts for Hushion, the trainer is not concerned about the Distaff’s seven-furlong distance.


“She’ll be OK,” said Hushion. “In her last race she relaxed really nicely.”


Nicole H will leave from post 5 under Channing Hill and 116 pounds as the 8-5 morning-line favorite.


The Distaff field also includes Kid Kate, who took the Correction at Aqueduct on January 29 prior to finishing seventh in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park on February 19, and Wild News, second in the Patty’s Positive overnight stakes at the Big A on February 37.


The field for the Grade 2, $150,000 Distaff Handicap:








Wild News (KY)

C C Lopez


J Parisella



Kid Kate (KY)

C H Velasquez


C C Brown



Qualia (KY)

A O Solis


R Ribaudo



Spacy Tracy (KY)

J Rose


A W Dutrow



Nicole H (KY)

C Hill


M E Hushion





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