By Richard Rosenblatt
Letruska has been sensational in 2021 and is the horse to beat in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) loaded with talented fillies and mares.
The 5-year-old daughter of Super Saver trained by Fausto Gutierrez has distinguished herself not only as the top female racehorse, but also as a legitimate contender for Horse of the Year.
A front-running winner of six-of-seven races this year, including four Grade 1s, Letruska has turned aside every challenger except for a narrow loss (by a head) in the Azeri Stakes (G2) to Shedaresthedevil, who is also entered in the Distaff.
She’s put away all her other rivals who are back in the Distaff for another try, including Dunbar Road, Royal Flag, As Times Goes By, and she also defeated Shedaresthedevil in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on June 5.
Letruska tuned up for the 1 1/8-mile Distaff with a 5-furlong work in 1:01.20 on Saturday (Oct. 30) at Del Mar. With Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard again, Letruska comes in with a five-race winning streak – he most recent victory was by 1¾ lengths over Dunbar Road in the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland on Oct. 10.
Gutierrez likes the way Letruska handled the track, but also noted that she’s handled every track she’s been on (six) during her 5-year-old campaign.
“This is a horse to change the life of any person,’’ Gutierrez said recently. “She’s a superstar and she proves it every second, every race.”
Her current five race winning streak looks like this: Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park; Ogden Phipps at Belmont; Fleur de Lis (G2) at Churchill Downs; Personal Ensign at Saratoga; and the Spinster.
Post position: 6
Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Trainer: Fausto Gutierrez
Owner: St. George Stable LLC
Career record: 22-17-1-1
Career earnings: $2,236,459
Top Equibase speed figure: 113
Pedigree: Super Saver-Magic Appeal, by Successful Appeal
Running style: Front-runner
Betting advice: There is no lock in racing, but Letruska has it all and seems to be in top form heading into the race. This one, though, has formidable contenders, including Clairiere, Malathaat, Shedaresthedevil, and Dunbar Road. Two years ago, Blue Prize upset even-money favorite Midnight Bisou in the Distaff. With that in mind, I still like Letruska to hang on at the finish.
Notes: Favorites have won five of the last 10 Distaffs … St. George Stables of Germán Larrea Mota-Velasco, who heads the largest copper mining business in his native Mexico … Irad Ortiz, Jr., has 11 Breeders’ Cup wins from 63 mounts — he two BC races in 2020 (Golden Pal; Juvenile Turf Sprint and Whitmore; BC Sprint) … A trainer in Mexico, Gutierrez and St. George Stable began racing in the U.S. in 2019 … When Letruska defeated two-time Eclipse Award winner in the Apple Blossom in April, it marked the trainer’s first Grade 1 win.
|1||Private Mission||8-1||Bob Baffert||Flavien Prat|
|2||Royal Flag||8-1||Chad Brown||Joel Rosario|
|3||Malathaat||4-1||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|4||Blue Stripe (ARG)||30-1||Lafranco Dettori||Marcelo Polanco|
|5||Clairiere||12-1||Ricardo Santa Ana,Jr||Steven Asmussen|
|6||Letruska||8-5||Fausto Gutierrez||Irad Ortiz, Jr.|
|7||Horologist||30-1||William Mott||Junior Alvarado|
|8||Shedaresthedevil||4-1||Brad Cox||Florent Geroux|
|9||As Time Goes By||15-1||Bob Baffert||Luis Saez|
|10||Marche Lorraine (JPN)||30-1||Yoshito Yahagi||Oisin Murphy|
|11||Dunbar Road||15-1||Chad Brown||Jose L. Ortiz|
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.