Three Great Moments: Breeders’ Cup Distaff
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder

Known as the Distaff prior to 2008, the Ladies Classic from 2009 to 2012 and restored as the Distaff in 2013, this name changing race has provided some of contemporary racing’s most thrilling moments. You may be familiar with the more recent renditions of Zenyatta (2008), Unrivaled Belle (2010) and Royal Delta (20112012) but we offer three stellar moments from the Breeders’ Cup Distaff vault for your enjoyment.

In reverse chronological order…

1995 Inside Information

From the “going out with a bang” files, we have Inside Information, who in the last race of her career crushed a field that included Serena’s Song, stablemate Heavenly Prize (who came from the back of the pack to catch second) and Lakeway by 13 1/2 lengths, which is still the largest winning margin in Breeders’ Cup history.

Video courtesy of the Breeders’ Cup

1995 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Chart courtesy of
Inside Information Lifetime Past Performance courtesy of

Never out of the money at 17-14-1-2, Inside Information lost only once as a 4-year-old, finishing second behind Classy Mirage after stumbling badly out of the gate in the Grade 1 Ballerina. As a broodmare, she produced multiple Grade 1 winner and 2005 champion 3-year-old filly Smuggler by 1990 Classic winner Unbridled. Smuggler never ran in the Breeders’ Cup.

1993 Hollywood Wildcat

Three-year-old Hollywood Wildcat got the best of the previous year’s winner, Paseana, who went on to become that year’s older female champion. Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye dropped the whip in the stretch, but Hollywood Wildcat still battled the older champ with determination to win.

Video courtesy of the Breeders’ Cup

1993 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Chart courtesy of

It was a rocky beginning to her 3-year-old season after an injury at 2. She raced four times without a win, so her owners shipped her to California to the barn of Neil Drysdale, where she kicked off a five-race winning streak that began with the Grade 1 Hollywood Oaks and ended with this performance in the Distaff. Her 4-year-old season was not as spectacular, as she won just two of six races. Perhaps one of her biggest accomplishments was in the breeding shed, where she produced 2000 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner War Chant, a notable turf sire who sired 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Chamberlain Bridge.

1988 Personal Ensign / Winning Colors

In a race that many believe to be one of the greatest Breeders’ Cup races of all times, Personal Ensign capped off her undefeated career by nipping that year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Winning Colors, on the wire.

Teresa Genaro sums it up best in her (excellent!) Personal Ensign Profile:

On November 5, 1988, Personal Ensign gave her best performance on racing’s biggest stage in what many believe is the greatest Breeders’ Cup race of all time. Running over a muddy track not to her liking, Winning Colors had what appeared to be an insurmountable lead deep in the stretch, but Personal Ensign put forth one last burst in the final seconds of her career. She caught Winning Colors at the wire and won by a nose, the smallest of official margins.

Video courtesy of the Breeders’ Cup

Personal Ensign Lifetime Past Performance courtesy of
Winning Colors Lifetime Past Performance courtesy of

If you read our Three Great Moments: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (what are you waiting for?), you’ll know that Personal Ensign went on to produce 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner My Flag, who went on to produce 2002 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Storm Flag Flying. Read more about Personal Ensign’s career both on and off the track in our profile!

Also Considered

With so many incredible performances to choose from, it was hard to narrow it down to just three. From Dance Smartly capping an undefeated season in 1991 to Beautiful Pleasure’s speedy wire-to-wire win in 1999, the Distaff has no shortage of notable performances. Here are a few a more that we considered for the top spots:

Lady’s Secret, also known as the Iron Lady, polished off her 1986 Horse of the Year campaign with a dominating performance in the Distaff. She ran 15 times in 1986, winning 10 races total, eight of them Grade 1 races, including the Whitney Handicap against males.

Azeri also capped off her 2002 Horse of the Year campaign in the Distaff, where she set wicked fractions under pressure and drew away without being asked. Find out more about the great Azeri in our Profile!

In 2004, Ashado beat older fillies and mares in her first attempt in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and she did it with authority once she shook loose from traffic. Also of note, she gave trainer Todd Pletcher his first Breeders’ Cup win with this performance. She was named champion 3-year-old filly and was champion older female the next year in 2005.

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Charts and PPs provided by Brisnet

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