2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Cheat Sheet
By J.J. Hysell, Hello Race Fan's Contributor
2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff
So you want to watch the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Friday but you have no idea who’s running. Not to worry! Here’s a thumbnail of the field in order of post position with morning line odds.
Be sure to check out our 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic Cheat Sheet and come back Friday and Saturday for our Breeders’ Cup picks.
1. Champagne Room (15-1) – Last year’s surprise winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 33-1 faces older, accomplished foes in just her third start of the year. She’s coming off a solid front-running win in the Remington Park Oaks, but she’s versatile enough that she doesn’t need the lead and could sit in a stalking spot. She boasts a win over the surface, but a tall task awaits for this bay 3-year-old who was a distant 3rd behind Unique Bella and Distaff foe Mopotism in the Grade 2 Las Virgenes.
2. Stellar Wind (5-2) – The starring role on this stage belongs to the 5-year-old chestnut mare who was a neck shy to Stopchargingmaria in 2015 and a troubled 4th last year after a bad start. With Beholder and Songbird absent, it’s her chance to claim the elusive prize. The Virginia-bred has shown no signs of regression this year with a perfect 3-for-3 showing in Grade 1 tests, including the Clement Hirsch over this surface. The champion relishes this strip as she is 3 for 3 here, but she is 0 for 3 at this distance. Paper indicates she could get a smooth stalking trip behind speedy Paradise Woods, but she’ll have to fend off feisty Forever Unbridled. Questions: Will she be fresh off the three-month layoff? Can trainer John Sadler get his first win in 39 Breeders’ Cup tries? She’s the one to beat.
3. Mopotism (30-1) – Although this 3-year-old filly’s career record is 2 for 12, she hasn’t shied away from top competition, including decent fourth-place showings behind top Distaff foes in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks and Cotillion. The odds are stacked against her, however, as she’s still seeking her first graded stakes win and must somehow turn the tables on familiar, more accomplished rivals.
4. Abel Tasman (4-1) – PLACE (2nd) Multiple Grade 1 winner and Kentucky Oaks victor returns to the track where she started her stellar career. Her second-place finish to It Tiz Well – who will not run in the Distaff – in the Grade 1 Cotillion on September 23 is better than it looks. Off a two-month layoff, she overcame a wide post and awkward start for a game finish. She’s 2 for 2 at this distance and is a top contender here with jockey Mike Smith, who boasts a record 25 Breeders’ Cup wins aboard.
5. Elate (3-1) – Bill Mott’s 3-year-old filly makes her first trip west after two very impressive Grade 1 victories on the New York circuit, including beating It Tiz Well in the Alabama. Many factors are in her favor here, including a versatile running style and stamina. One can never discount a runner from five-time Distaff winner Mott. She’s a strong candidate for the win spot.
6. Forever Unbridled (4-1) – WINNER – Last year’s third-place Distaff finisher has raced just twice this year, but the most recent win was the most impressive of her well-traveled career. The 5-year-old mare edged champion Songbird in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign to stamp herself as a force to be reckoned with in this year’s Distaff. The only question is the long layoff since that August 26 race, but a steady stream of 6-furlong fitness works at Churchill Downs has her geared up for Friday. She’s won seven races at seven tracks; an eighth is certainly within reach at Del Mar.
7. Paradise Woods (9-2) – SHOW (3rd) – It’s tough to predict what this lightly raced but brilliantly fast 3-year-old will do. She disappointed twice as the favorite this year, including a flat sixth-place finish over this surface after stumbling at the start of the Grade 3 Torrey Pines in August. She rebounded to show her “wow” factor in a front-running victory in the Grade 1 Zenyatta. She’s the most dangerous front-end threat in the field, but the closers who will be breathing down her neck in the stretch are also first-class. Will she be uncatchable or speed and fade?
8. Romantic Vision (15-1) – This hard-trying veteran mare heads west for her first adventure in the Breeders’ Cup spotlight, and why not? The 5-year-old has earned it with a sharp 2017 campaign that includes a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 La Troienne at 15-1 and two graded stakes wins, including her most recent victory in the Grade 1 Spinster at 6-1 over an off track. The Distaff will be her career finale, and trainer George “Rusty” Arnold is hoping his longshot will defy the odds once again in her greatest test.