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By Breeders’ Cup Media Staff — Longines Distaff —

As Time Goes By/Private Mission – Amazingly, for all his success in Breeders’ Cup Championships as the winningest with 17 victories, Bob Baffert will be seeking his first victory in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff when he sends out two starters in the 9f event Saturday. Private Mission, a once-beaten sophomore, will be facing older opponents for the first time.   “I didn’t like her drawing the rail,” Baffert said. “She’s going to need to break well.“I turned her out for a while after her only loss (last November). She’s such a royally bred filly and she should only get better with both age and racing distance.”  She galloped once around the main oval this morning.  Baffert’s other entrant, the 4yo filly As Time Goes By who will get a new rider in Luis Saez, was also out for a morning gallop of a mile this morning.  “Both of my fillies are training well, but I think As Time Goes By might prefer more distance, maybe a mile and one-quarter,” Baffert said. “This is a very tough race.  It’s a deep field.”

Blue Stripe (ARG) – Pozo de Luna’s Blue Stripe (ARG) jogged twice around the main track with exercise rider Alex Jimenez aboard for trainer Marcelo Polanco. The half-sister to 2019 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Blue Prize (ARG) will be making her U.S. debut in Saturday’s $2 million Distaff. It will be her first start since winning the Group 1 Gran Primo Criadores at Hipodromo Argentino De Palermo on May 1 going 1 1/4m.            

Polanco said there have been no setbacks for Blue Stripe since arriving in his barn in May. “The plan all along was to wait and run in the Distaff,” Polanco said of Blue Stripe, who has had 18 works since first appearing on the Santa Anita work tab June 30.            

Frankie Dettori, a 14-time Breeders’ Cup-winning rider, will have the mount on Blue Stripe in the Distaff and possibly may have a get-acquainted session with the 4yo filly before Saturday’s race. “It is not likely, but still a possibility,” Polcano said.  

Clairiere – Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has a lot of confidence in Stonestreet Stable LLC’s 3-year-old filly Clairiere heading into the Distaff. The filly is a daughter of Curlin, his 2007 Classic winner and two-time Horse of the Year also owned by Stonestreet.“I’m extremely excited about Clairiere in the fact that she has always been a quality filly, always kept or stayed in the highest level of competition and has continuously gotten better from it,” Asmussen said. “She had solid races over the winter in New Orleans, including the victory in the Rachel Alexandra and then the placing the Fair Grounds Oaks and the fourth in the Kentucky Oaks. From there, the Mother Goose, Coaching Club and Alabama, just solid runs, getting a little better all the time. And, then for her to break through in her last start in the million-dollar, Grade 1 Cotillion, closing the way she did behind a slow pace. “She has trained lights out since she’s been out here in California. Obviously, we’re well aware of the quality of the field of this year’s Distaff, but Clairiere gives us a tremendous amount of confidence in her. We believe her best race to date will be this Saturday. It’s special it is to train a filly like her for Stonestreet. It means everything as far as why you do this. A millionaire, a Grade 1 winner and a daughter of Curlin after what he meant to us. And, then she’s out of the unbelievably brilliant race mare Cavorting trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. It’s just a great reason to be in horse racing.”

Dunbar Road/Royal Flag – The Chad Brown-trained Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) duo of Dunbar Road and Royal Flag each went out for 1m gallops of the Del Mar main track Wednesday morning just after the break. W. S. Farish homebred Royal Flag is fresh off a dominant 4¼-length win in the Beldame Invitational and seeks her first Grade 1 victory. She will break from post two under Joel Rosario in the field of 11 and was assigned a morning line of 8-1.“
She’s training very well and I like how she’s coming in,” Brown said. “Her Beldame was very good.” Peter Brant’s Dunbar Road will make her final start in the Distaff and will be reunited with jockey Jose Ortiz, who piloted her to her biggest win, Saratoga’s Alabama (G1) in 2019. Ortiz also teamed with the daughter of Quality Road to win Belmont’s Mother Goose (G2), Churchill Downs’ Shawnee Stakes and broke the six-time winner’s maiden in March 2019 at Gulfstream Park.

“I’m looking forward to riding her one more time,” Ortiz said. “I’m getting back on her and I have a lot of respect for her and have some big wins on her. For this race, I’m excited because she’s coming into the race in good form.”  

Horologist – Bill Mott-trained Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) contender Horologist galloped just over one mile of the Del Mar dirt track on Wednesday morning and, per her conditioner, has trained well for her formidable Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) test on Saturday.Owned by There’s a Chance Stable, Medallion Racing, Abbondanza Racing, Parkland Thoroughbreds, Paradise Farms and David Staudacher, she enters off pace-setting runner-up effort in the Beldame Invitational (G2), a race she won last year prior to finishing ninth of 10 in the Distaff. 

Letruska – Early in 2020, trainer Fausto Gutierrez thought Letruska might be a sprinter good enough to compete in the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland. One race later, he changed his mind and put the 5yo mare on a course that has brought her to Del Mar as the 8-5 favorite in the $2 million Distaff. During the early part of her career in Mexico and in the 2019 Copa Invitacional del Caribe Stakes she was unbeaten in distances from 5 ½ furlongs to 1 ¼ miles. An impressive win in the Added Elegance on June 27 at Gulfstream Park, made Gutierrez think he had found her best distance. “She ran one mile, just one turn, and she crossed the six furlongs in 1:08 and change,” Gutierrez said. “At that moment, I thought that maybe we had a spot for the Breeders’ Cup, the Sprint.”

To test his theory, Gutierrez took her to Saratoga for the 7f Ballerina. When she finished fifth, beaten 6 ¼ lengths, after contesting the first half-mile in 43.74 seconds with eventual winner Serengeti Empress, Gutierrez said he realized that his Breeders’ Cup plan would not work and stretched her out again to 9f.“We switched our plans and went to the Shuvee, three weeks after,” he said. “I reconsidered very quickly and we moved again to the long distances.

”Letruska has run nine times since the Shuvee, all at a mile or more and has a 7-1-0 record. Using her speed, she has flourished at two turns and has won five straight races.            

“If we go a mile and a quarter, I think it is even better for her,” Gutierrez said. “The more distance, she has the chance to go a little bit more relaxed.” Letruska galloped 1 ½m Wednesday morning with exercise rider Roger Horgan aboard. 

Malathaat – Words of praise for come easily from Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher for Shadwell Stables’ 3yo filly Malathaat, who is testing older horses for the first time Saturday in the $2 million Distaff. Purchased for $1,050,000 as a Keeneland yearling in 2019, Malathaat has won six of seven starts, including the Kentucky Oaks. “She’s a very special filly,” Pletcher said. “Part of it is that we trained the dam. Secondly, she has a tremendous personality. A very kind filly. Very professional. Really easy. She is a pleasure to have in the barn.”

Pletcher handled the dam, Dreaming of Julia, during her two-season, eight-race career. She was third in the 2012 Juvenile Fillies, her lone appearance in the Breeders’ Cup.The Distaff has drawn a field of 11, but a lot of the attention figures to be focused on the first meeting between the speedy 5yo mare Letruska, who has won five consecutive stakes, and Malathaat, the most-accomplished 3yo in the country. Letruska is the 8-5 morning line favorite, while Malathaat is the co-second choice with Shedaresthedevil at 4-1. “It’s what you would expect from any Breeders’ Cup Distaff,” Pletcher said.

“It’s a collection of the best fillies and mares in the country. You’ve got some speed in there. You’ve got some closers. You’ve got some 3-year-old fillies, the best older mares. It’s what you’d expect to see in the Distaff. Hopefully, there is a good, honest pace to run at and we can let our filly do her thing. She is kind of ideally suited to be a stalker. She enjoys a target. ”Malathaat drew post three and will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.    

Marche Lorraine (JPN) – U. Carrot Farm’s Marche Lorraine (JPN) had a walk day following a 3f breeze Tuesday.  

Shedaresthedevil – Flurry Racing Stable, Qatar Racing Limited and Big Aut Farm’s Shedaresthedevil had an easy gallop under Edvin Vargas Wednesday morning before what is likely to be her last race in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She is scheduled to be sold at the Fasig Tipton November sale a few days after the race.

However, first she will try to secure championship honors in a race that has been the plan since skipping the race last year after she finished third in the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland. One race earlier, she pulled the upset in the Kentucky Oaks at odds of 15-1. 

“This is obviously a bigger, tougher race this time around than the last one, but she’s training really well,” trainer Brad Cox said “And we’ve been waiting for this. I told someone earlier, we’ve been pointing for this race with her basically since the day after the Spinster last year. We decided to pull the plug on her, give her a break and campaign this year in an attempt to get her out here and have her peak in November. So far, that plan is working.”  ­­
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