Below is a preview of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. For analysis, selections, and PPs for ALL 14 Breeders’ Cup races, get the TimeformUS Breeders’ Cup Package.
The Breeders’ Cup Distaff
1 and 1/8 Miles, Dirt, Fillies & Mares, 3 and Up
Santa Anita, Friday, Race 10
1) #4 Royal Delta
2) #5 Beholder
3) #6 Princess of Sylmar
The Breeders’ Cup Distaff features the smallest field on the card, as only six fillies and mares are lined up to contest this prestigious $2m Grade One race. What the field lacks in size it more than makes up for in terms of quality and accomplishment, however, as this is a tremendous group that seems certain to put on quite a late afternoon show for fans of the Sport of Kings and, in this case, queens.
We start with two-time defending champion #4 Royal Delta. Last year, Royal Delta wired the field, posting a solid 123 TimeformUS speed figure. A duplication of that effort should get the job done on Friday. Royal Delta comes into this race having lost her previous start–to the talented three-year-old Princess of Sylmar, who opposes her again on Friday. While we have a great deal of respect for Princess of Sylmar, we have reason to believe Royal Delta can turn the tables in this spot. Note that she is 6-for-8 lifetime when entering races off of losses, and that her trainer, Bill Mott, gets strong TimeformUS ratings when switching circuits (86), when employing today’s spacing (88), and when using Mike Smith (100).
The TimeformUS Pace Projector indicates that Royal Delta should get a stalking trip behind the outstanding three-year-old local horse, #5 Beholder. Given that Royal Delta will break inside of Beholder, one could argue that Royal Delta’s connections will opt for frontrunning tactics, but our expectation is that this will not happen. We don’t anticipate that Bill Mott will draw up a plan that requires his mare to outrun Beholder early and Princess of Sylmar late.
#5 Beholder is five-for-six at Santa Anita overall, and four-for-four in routes. She was a brilliant two-year-old, and she’s clearly top class. However, she did lose her only start at nine furlongs, succumbing to Princess of Sylmar in the final strides of the G1 Kentucky Oaks. It is also telling that the finest performance of Beholder’s career came at the sprint distance of six furlongs, where she posted a spectacular 123 speed figure, and did so as a two-year-old, no less.
Which brings us to #6 Princess of Sylmar, who soundly defeated Royal Delta at Belmont Park 34 days ago while earning a speed figure of 117. Princess of Sylmar is trained by Todd Pletcher, who sports an overall Trainer Rating of 100, which is our maximum rating. She also has the services of jockey Javier Castellano. Pletcher sports a terrific 98 rating when he uses Castellano. Moreover, he gets a 95 rating when employing race-spacing that is similar to today’s. Plainly, there is much to like here. But there is also something here that gives us pause. Princess of Sylmar has had a very busy campaign, and this race was not originally supposed to be part of it. Does she have another peak effort in her off the cross-country ship only 34 days after that glistening effort she put in last time? Note that the last time she posted a 117 speed figure, she reacted to it, and fillies are generally more reliable bounce candidates than their male counterparts. So, yes, there are big positives here, but there are also concerns–concerns that we find hard to dismiss given that her odds will be relatively short.
For our thoughts on the rest of the Distaff field, and for analysis and selections for all 14 Breeders’ Cup races, get the Breeders’ Cup Package.