Ranking the Preps: Showdown looms in Breeders' Cup Distaff

Ranking the Preps: Showdown looms in Breeders' Cup Distaff
Photo: NYRA Photo

While the Breeders' Cup Distaff took a hit with the recent retirement of champion Midnight Bisou due to injury, a potential heavyweight matchup still looms between star 3-year-old filly Swiss Skydiver and 2018 Distaff winner Monomoy Girl. 

Swiss Skydiver has taken the sport by storm this season with five graded stakes wins from coast-to-coast culminating with the classic Preakness Stakes when besting Kentucky Derby winner Authentic on Oct. 3 at Pimlico Race Course. While trainer Ken McPeek has indicated testing the boys again in the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic at 1 1/4 miles is an option, owner Peter Callahan has made clear his preference is for the $2 million Distaff going 1 1/8 miles.

Monomoy Girl will be looking to complete one of the better comeback stories of recent vintage in the Distaff. After earning champion 3-year-old filly honors in 2018, Monomoy Girl was forced to miss the entire 2019 campaign due to injury. She finally resurfaced this spring at Churchill Downs to win a high-level allowance before going on to score in the Ruffian (G2) at Belmont Park in July and the Sept. 4 La Troienne (G1) at Churchill Downs, the latter of which can be viewed below.

Key Preps for Breeders' Cup Distaff

 RaceDate Track Winner Brisnet Beyer 
Alabama Aug. 12 Saratoga Swiss Skydiver 109 102 
Personal Ensign Aug. 1 Saratoga Vexatious 103 105 
Spinster Oct. 4 KeenelandValiance 103 96 
La Troienne Sept. 4 Churchill Monomoy Girl 100 97 
Beldame Oct. 4 Belmont  Horologist 101 100 
Zenyatta Sept. 27 Santa Anita Harvest Moon 98 97

1. Alabama Stakes (G1), Aug. 12, Saratoga

Winner: Swiss Skydiver

2nd: Bonny South

3rd: Harvey’s Lil Goil

Final Time: 2:03.04

This was the fourth of Swiss Skydiver's five graded stakes wins on the year. The daughter of Daredevil opened up a nearly seven-length lead at the eighth pole of the 1 1/4-miles Alabama and was wrapped up the final 70 yards to finish 3 1/2 lengths clear. 

Bonny South would go on to finish second in the Oct. 3 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico against 3-year-olds and is expected to start in the Distaff. Harvey's Lil Goil appears headed to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf after her win in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland.

2. Personal Ensign (G1), Aug. 1, Saratoga

Winner: Vexatious

2nd: Midnight Bisou

3rd: Point of Honor

Final time: 1:48.82

Vexatious put in one of the best performances of the prep season here when attending the pace and gamely digging in through the stretch to hold off Midnight Bisou by a neck. It was the second big effort in a row from Vexatious following a good second to Monomoy Girl in the Ruffian that earned career-high speed figures. However, the daughter of Giant's Causeway returned with a clunker when no match behind Monomoy Girl in the La Troienne.

Point of Honor came back to be second in the Oct. 4 Beldame (G2) at Belmont Park for trainer George Weaver and is projected for the Distaff.

Spinster Stakes (G1), Oct. 4, Keeneland

Winner: Valiance

2nd: Ollie’s Candy

3rd: Shedaresthedevil

Final Time: 1:49.76

A stakes winner on turf, Valiance earned a shot in this spot after uncorking a career-high 105 Brisnet Speed Rating when winning the Eatontown Stakes that was taken off the turf at Monmouth Parker. The 4-year-old Tapit filly confirmed her affinity for the dirt here when stalking a hot pace and fending off Grade 1 winner Ollie's Candy by three-quarter lengths. 

Ollie's Candy -- who has been beaten less than a length in four straight Grade 1s this season -- is also headed to the Distaff.

4. La Troienne (G1), Sept. 4, Churchill Downs

Winner: Monomoy Girl

2nd: Lady Kate

3rd: Horologist

Final Time: 1:42.14

After earning a career-best 111 Brisnet Speed Rating going a one-turn mile in the Ruffian, Monomoy Girl stretched out and improved to 3-for-3 on the year when reeling in the field on the second turn and drawing clear in the stretch.

This latest victory by Monomoy Girl was flattered when Horologist came back to be a clear-cut winner of the Beldame. 

5. Beldame Stakes (G2), Oct. 4, Belmont Park

Winner: Horologist

2nd: Point of Honor

3rd: Dunbar Road

Final Time: 1:49.01

This was the second win in three starts for Horologist since joining the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in early summer. She first earned a career-best 106 Brisnet Speed Rating when winning the Molly Pritcher (G3) at Monmouth Park, then after the La Troienne effort noted above, she came back to win easily here by three lengths.

Dunbar Road, who won the Delaware Handicap (G2) for trainer Chad Brown in the race prior, remains under consideration for the Distaff. 

6. Zenyatta Stakes (G2), Sept. 27, Santa Anita Park

Winner: Harvest Moon

2nd: Hard Not To Love

3rd: Fighting Mad

Final Time: 1:43.03

Since debuting in an entry-level allowance on turf and running third June 12 at Santa Anita, lightly raced Harvest Moon has quickly climbed the ranks in Southern California with four straight wins. In the Zenyatta, the 3-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo pressed Bob Baffert's pacesetter Fighting Mad, took over at the top of the stretch and dug in gamely to hold off fast-charging Hard Not To Love by 3/4 lengths. 

Hard Not To Love has been runner-up in three graded stakes in Southern California this season for trainer John Shirreffs and will press on to the Distaff. Trainer Bob Baffert has indicated Fighting Mad would bypass the Breeders' Cup. 

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