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The Breeders' Cup Distaff

Breeders' Cup > Distaff

Breeders’ Cup Distaff

The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff will be held at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club on Friday, November 3rd.

 

The Distaff Winners

The Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff brings together the best female dirt horses for a championship showdown at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

Known as the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic between 2008 and 2012, the Distaff is the final race on the first day of the 2-day event. The 1 1/8 mile race in 2013 saw Beholder run the fastest time in the Breeders’ Cup event since 2000 when she cruised home in 1:47.77. But the fastest time in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff history is 1:46.15 by Inside Information in 1995, who also won by the largest margin in the races history (13 ½ lengths). Mike Smith rode her to victory, and he’s ridden a record five Distaff winners. Trainer Bill Mott has also won the race a record five times.

Bayakoa (1989, 1990), Royal Delta (2011, 2012) and Beholder (2013, 2016) have won the Distaff twice.

Zenyatta won the 2008 Ladies’ Classic. She returned in 2009 and won the Breeders’ Cup Classic against males. She is the only female racer to ever complete that historic double. Zenyatta finished a close second to winner Blame in the 2010 BC Classic in the only loss of her career.

A total of 14 post time favorites have won the Distaff, but the biggest long shot to prevail was Spain (2000) when she cashed in at Churchill Downs at 55-1 odds for jockey Mike Smith and trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Other big long shots to win the Distaff include One Dreamer (47-1) in 1994, and Adoration (40-1) in 2003.  

Two of the most memorable Distaff races in Breeders’ Cup history occurred in 1988 and 2016.  
The 1988 Distaff featured Personal Ensign, who in the final racer of her career and looking hopelessly beaten a few strides from the wire, caught Winning Colors to notch her 13th straight win.

The 2016 Distaff was a showcase of the undefeated Songbird and the great older mare Beholder. In a sensational stretch duel in which the two superstars went head-to-head and kept on determinedly, Beholder got the bob at the wire to win by a nose in what was also the final race of her career with more that $6 million in earnings and a winner 18 times in 26 starts with 6 runner up finishes.    
The 1990 Breeders’ Cup at Belmont Park was one of the saddest days in the event’s history. Go for Wand, the brilliant filly and champion, broke down in the stretch during the running of the Distaff and had to be euthanized. Her sad end overshadowed the brilliance of Bayakoa, who won her second straight Distaff that day.

 

The History of the Breeders' Cup Distaff

The Breeders’ Cup Distaff was first run in 1984 during the inaugural run of the world championships. It is a 1 1/8th mile race on dirt designed for fillies and mares ages three-years-old and up. While it has a purse of $2,000,000 it is also one of the marquee events of the entire weekend.

The race draws such heavy interest that it has been the final event for the first day of action since 2008. Jockey Mike Smith and trainer Bill Mott have each won the event five times

Inside Information won the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Distaff at the age of four in a time of 1:46.15 to set the current speed record. She is one of many Hall of Fame mares to have claimed victory in this race.

Three horses have won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff twice. Bayokoa was the first to do so in 1989 and 1990. Royal Delta repeated the feat in 2011 and 2012. Beholder was the third and most recent competitor to do this having first won in decisive fashion in 2013. She then ran against Songbird in 2016 in one of the most exhilarating races ever and edged her rival in a photo finish.

Other notable winners of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff include Personal Ensign in 1988, Azeri in 2002, Ashado in 2004, Zenyatta in 2008 and Untapable in 2014. All of them are Hall of Fame winners.

From 1984 through 1986, the Breeders’ Cup Distaff was held over 1 ¼ miles. Hall of Famers Princess Rooney scored victory in 1984 while Lady’s Secret won in 1986. Life’s Magic was the winner in 1985 and was also the Eclipse Award winner for Champion Older Female Horse that same season.

In other words, winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff thrusts you in to an upper echelon. It is largely considered the most prestigious race for a filly or mare to win in the entire sport. The event was even rebranded as the “Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic” from 2008 until 2012 but then reverted back to its original namesake.

Seven prep races serve as installments on the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series and offer automatic berths in to the Distaff. These include the Odgen Phipps Stakes, Fleur de Lis Handicap, Clement L. Hirsch Handicap, Zenyatta Stakes and Spinster Stakes, which all take part in the Uinted States. An additional race called the Gran Premio Criadores is run in Argentina.

 

2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Recap

The 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championships was held from November 4th through the 5th at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California. It was the 33rd edition of the Breeders’ Cup.

This year’s Breeders’ Cup did not lack for excitement, and the Distaff provided just that in the form of a photo finish between Beholder and Songbird. In the fourth and final race of the first day of the World Championship meet, the battle between Champions Songbird, the 4-5 pre-race favorite, and Beholder (5-2 odds) was an epic experience for anyone fortunate enough to be in attendance.

Songbird led for a majority of the 1 1/8-mile race, leading the pack after halfway through the race, but it was Beholder who made a move in the stretch to catch up to Songbird and ultimately come ahead by a neck in a winning time of 1:49.20. Finishing in third, 1 ¼ lengths behind, was Forever Unbridled.

Not only did Beholder win her third Breeders’ Cup, but she also ended Songbird’s unbeaten streak. Heading into the Distaff, Songbird compiled a record of 11-0, including a win in last year’s 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

“That was a hell of a way to go out,” said jockey Gary Stevens, referring to the race being Beholder’s last of her career. Trainer Richard Mandella earned his ninth career Breeders’ Cup win.

Beholder paid $8.60, $3.60, and $3.00 across the board for the win. She retires with a career record of 18-6-0 in 26 career starts, and earned $6,156,600.

 

BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF WINNERS & RECORDS

Year/Track
Winner/ Jockey/ Time/
Date/Distance Owner Trainer Odds
2016 - SA  Beholder  G. Stevens 01:49.2
Nov 04 - 1 1/8M Spendthrift Farm LLC R. Mandella $3.30
2015 - KEE Stopchargingmaria  J. Castellano 01:49.0
Oct 30 - 1 1/8M Town and Country Farms, Corp. T. Pletcher $7.10
2014 - SA  Untapable  A. Napravnik 01:48.7
Oct 31 - 1 1/8M Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC S. Asmussen $1.60*
2013 - SA  Beholder  G. Stevens 01:47.8
Nov 01 - 1 1/8M Spendthrift Farm LLC R. Mandella $2.80
2012 - SA  Royal Delta  M. Smith 01:48.8
Nov 02 - 1 1/8M Besilu Stables W. Mott $1.70*
2011 - CD  Royal Delta  J. Lezcano 01:50.8
Nov 04 - 1 1/8M Palides Investments N.V., Inc. W. Mott $2.20*
2010 - CD  Unrivaled Belle  K. Desormeaux 01:50.0
Nov 05 - 1 1/8M Seidler, Gary and Vegso, Peter W. Mott $7.50
2009 - OSA Life Is Sweet  G. Gomez 01:48.6
Nov 06 - 1 1/8M Pam & Martin Wygod J. Shirreffs $8.10
2008 - OSA Zenyatta  M. Smith 01:46.9
Oct 24 - 1 1/8M Jerome S. (M/M) Moss J. Shirreffs $0.50*
2007 - MTH Ginger Punch  R. Bejarano 01:50.1
Oct 27 - 1 1/8M Stronach Stables R. Frankel $4.50
2006 - CD  Round Pond  E. Prado 01:50.5
Nov 04 - 1 1/8M Fox Hill Farms, Inc. M. Matz $13.90
2005 - BEL Pleasant Home  C. Velasquez 01:48.3
Oct 29 - 1 1/8M Phipps Stable C. McGaughey III $30.75
2004 - LS  Ashado  J. Velazquez 01:48.3
Oct 30 - 1 1/8M Starlight Racing T. Pletcher $2.00*
2003 - SA  Adoration  P. Valenzuela 01:49.2
Oct 25 - 1 1/8M Amerman Racing Stables LLC D. Hofmans $40.70
2002 - AP  Azeri  M. Smith 01:48.6
Oct 26 - 1 1/8M Allen E. Paulson Living Trust L. De Seroux $1.80*
2001 - BEL Unbridled Elaine  P. Day 01:49.2
Oct 27 - 1 1/8M Roger J. Devenport D. Stewart $12.30
2000 - CD  Spain  V. Espinoza 01:47.7
Nov 04 - 1 1/8M The Thoroughbred Corporation D. Lukas $55.90
1999 - GP  Beautiful Pleasure  J. Chavez 01:47.6
Nov 06 - 1 1/8M John C. Oxley J. Ward, Jr. $3.00
1998 - CD  Escena  G. Stevens 01:49.9
Nov 07 - 1 1/8M Allen E. Paulson W. Mott $3.00
1997 - HOL Ajina  M. Smith 01:47.3
Nov 08 - 1 1/8M Allen E. Paulson W. Mott $4.80
1996 - WO  Jewel Princess  C. Nakatani 01:48.4
Oct 26 - 1 1/8M Stephen, Richard J. and Martha J. and The Thoroughbred Corp. W. Dollase $2.40
1995 - BEL Inside Information  M. Smith 01:46.2
Oct 28 - 1 1/8M Ogden Mills Phipps C. McGaughey III $0.80*
1994 - CD  One Dreamer  G. Stevens 01:50.7
Nov 05 - 1 1/8M Glen Hill Farm T. Proctor $47.10
1993 - SA  Hollywood Wildcat  E. Delahoussaye 01:48.4
Nov 06 - 1 1/8M Cowan, Marge and Irving M. N. Drysdale $1.30*
1992 - GP  Paseana (ARG)  C. McCarron 01:48.2
Oct 31 - 1 1/8M Sidney H. Craig R. McAnally $2.70
1991 - CD  Dance Smartly  P. Day 01:51.0
Nov 02 - 1 1/8M Sam-Son Farms J. Day $0.50*
1990 - BEL Bayakoa (ARG)  L. Pincay, Jr. 01:49.2
Oct 27 - 1 1/8M Whitham, Mr. and Mrs. F. E. R. McAnally $1.10
1989 - GP  Bayakoa (ARG)  L. Pincay, Jr. 01:47.4
Nov 04 - 1 1/8M Whitham, Mr. and Mrs. F. E. R. McAnally $0.70*
1988 - CD  Personal Ensign  R. Romero 01:52.0
Nov 05 - 1 1/8M Ogden Phipps C. McGaughey III $0.50*
1987 - HOL Sacahuista  R. Romero 02:02.8
Nov 21 - 1 1/4M Beal and French, Jr. D. Lukas $2.90
1986 - SA  Lady's Secret  P. Day 02:01.2
Nov 01 - 1 1/4M Klein, Mr. and Mrs. E. V. D. Lukas $0.50*
1985 - AQU Life's Magic  A. Cordero, Jr. 02:02.0
Nov 02 - 1 1/4M E. V. Klein D. Lukas $0.40*
1984 - HOL Princess Rooney  E. Delahoussaye 02:02.4
Nov 10 - 1 1/4M Paula J. Tucker N. Drysdale $0.70*

 

Breeders' Cup Distaff post postition history and race times for winners.