2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Contenders, Post Positions, Odds and Predictions

The field is set for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) on Saturday at Del Mar. A field of 11 filles and mares is entered for the 1 1/8-mile Distaff, with the nation’s leading female Letruska the 8-5 favorite. Here are the updated profiles with post positions and odds. Horses are listed in post position order. The profiles were written by usracing.com contributors Ed McNamara, Margaret Ransom, Noel Michaels, Ray Wallin, and Jenny Kellner.

By US Racing Team


By Margaret Ransom

Private Mission – Photo Courtesy of Benoit Photo

Baoma Corporation paid $750,000 for Private Mission at Fasig-Tipton’s 2019 Saratoga Select yearling sale and since then, the 3-year-old daughter of Into Mischief has won four of her five career starts in the care of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, including the Zenyatta Stakes (G2) over her home track of Santa Anita where she secured herself a spot in the Distaff starting gate.

“Private Mission, I’m glad I stayed home with her,” Baffert said. “I decided (the Zenyatta Stakes) would be best for her with the Breeders’ Cup in mind, we didn’t want to stress her. She’s on the improve, getting better and better.”

Currently, Private Mission is riding a three-race win streak into the Breeders’ Cup and while the Distaff will be her first stab at 1 1/8 miles, having only won at 1 1/16 miles or shorter, she certainly is bred to like the stretch out.

Private Mission has worked just once since the Zenyatta, posting a half-mile in 48.80 at Santa Anita on Oct. 15, and worked on Sunday, Oct. 31 at Del Mar, covering 5 furlongs in 58.80, the fastest of 44 workouts at the distance.

2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Profile: PRIVATE MISSION

Post position: 1

Odds: 8-1

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Baoma Corp. (Charles and Susan Chu)

Career record: 5-4-0-0

Career earnings: $256,800

Top Equibase speed figure: 98

Pedigree: Into Mischief-Private Gift, by Unbridled

Color: Bay

Running style: Front-runner

Betting advice: Private Mission’s speed is her weapon, which may work to her disadvantage against well-seasoned and talented runners who also have speed, such as division leader Letruska and Shedaresthedevil. She is a graded winner over the track – the Torrey Pines Stakes (G2) in August

Notes: Baffert has won 17 Breeders’ Cup races to trail fellow Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas by three, but his runners have earned the most with $35,985,000, which is nearly $10 million more than the next closest trainer, Aidan O’Brien … Baffert has never saddled a  Distaff winner, however, from seven starters, his best finisher in the race was Abel Tasman, who was second in 2017… Jockey Flavien Prat has ridden 46 Breeders’ Cup mounts with three winners – Obviously (2016 Turf Sprint), Battle of Midway (2017 Dirt Mile), Storm the Court (2019 Juvenile)… Baoma Corporation has had four Breeders’ Cup starters and one winner, Drefong captured the 2016 Sprint.



By Ray Wallin

This 5-year-old mare is fresh off an impressive stalking win as a big favorite against a field that contained the returning champion Horologist in the Beldame Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park in October.

ROYAL FLAG – Photo Courtesy of NYRA.com

Chad Brown’s assistant noted that “this year Royal Flag has obviously taken a big step forward,” and she has steadily improved since winning her first graded stakes at Aqueduct last fall.

Brown opted to run her close to home in her final prep before the Distaff.

“I want to give her a chance to get to the Breeders’ Cup by running her out of her own stall and not giving her a long ship here and back, and obviously avoiding Letruska,” Brown said before the race.

Avoiding Letruska gave Joel Rosario the perfect pace for Royal Flag to run her race. “She broke really well. We were up a little bit in the race today,” as Horologist set a contested early pace with Miss Marissa on her tail.

She was no match for the favored strong front-runner Letruska two back in the Personal Ensign (G1) at Saratoga, which is something she will need to overcome, since there’s no avoiding the top-rated female in the Distaff.

“I do have a lot of respect for Letruska,” Brown said. “She’s the clear leader of the division; she’ll be tough to beat. But coming within a half-length of her and our filly continuing to get a little faster and a little stronger, hopefully she can make up that half-length.”

Despite that minor setback, she has been steadily improving in her 2021 campaign. She missed by a head to fellow Distaff entrant Bonny South in the Baird Doubledogdare (G3) at Keeneland in April, but then came back to catch Horologist in the stretch to take the Shuvee (G3) at Saratoga.

Royal Flag looks to be Chad Brown’s best chance to win the Distaff since Plum Pretty almost wired the field in 2011. Brown’s Dunbar Road is also pre-entered for the Distaff.

2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Profile: ROYAL FLAG

Post position: 2

Odds: 8-1

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: W.S. Farish

Career record: 12-6-3-3

Career earnings: $573,020

Top Equibase speed figure: 111

Pedigree: Candy Ride -Sea Gull, by Mineshaft

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker/closer

Betting advice: Royal Flag’s best opportunity to win is if the early pace is pressured so she can sit back in the middle to the back of the pack and make a late run.

Notes: Chad Brown was an assistant trainer to Bobby Frankel and stepped up for him to saddle and win the 2007 Distaff with Ginger Punch before starting his own stable. Brown has won 15 Breeders’ Cup races, 13 of them on the turf, and is looking for his first Distaff win out of his own stable … He’s won the Filly & Mare Turf four times and the Juvenile Fillies Turf five times.


By Ed McNamara

Todd Pletcher has trained many outstanding fillies and mares, including 2004 Distaff (G1) winner Ashado and 2007 Belmont Stakes (G1) heroine Rags to Riches. Malathaat has a chance to be remembered as one of his best girls.

Malathaat – Photo Courtesy of NYRA

She’s a head away from being 7-for-7, and the loss gets a giant asterisk. The 3-10 favorite was hounded all the way in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), first by Maracuja, then by Clairiere, before 14-1 shot Maracuja wore down Malathaat in the final strides.

As expected, Malathaat rebounded by taking the 1 1/4-mile Alabama (G1) on Aug. 21 despite stumbling at the start. She’s being trained up to the Distaff, and the 11-week layoff shouldn’t be a concern. Pletcher is brilliant at getting horses to peak off long layoffs, winning this year at 22% off breaks of 46 to 90 days.

“I think the time between races has done her good,” he said. “She’s put on some weight, and she seems very fit and happy.”

Malathaat rarely wins by much, with the Alabama’s margin of 1 1/2 lengths the biggest in her last four victories. She’s a classy fighter and a strong finisher, although not the easiest horse to ride. John Velazquez said as soon as they made the lead in the Alabama, he thought he’d “gotten there too soon. But that’s the way she does things.”

“I think she likes playing with horses,” Pletcher said that day. “She identifies a target, and when she gets to that target, then she kind of thinks ‘Next game.’”

 he tuned up for the Distaff on Oct. 23 with a 5-furlong breeze in 1:01.63 at Belmont Park.

 “I thought she worked great,” Pletcher said. “She was very impressive. She keeps going and going and gallops out super.”  

2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Profile: MALATHAAT

Post position: 3

Odds: 4-1

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Shadwell Stable

Career record: 7-6-1-0

Career earnings: $1,555,150

Top Equibase speed figure: 107

Pedigree: Curlin-Dreaming of Julia, by A.P. Indy

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Betting advice: Malathaat has an excellent chance to win, and for once she won’t be overbet. Division leader Letruska will be favored, and she’ll likely face pace pressure from Shedaresthedevil, Private Mission and Horologist. Malathaat should sit a good stalking trip and be ready to roll in the stretch.

Notes: Pletcher, racing’s all-time earnings leader, was inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer. He has 11 Breeders’ Cup wins, including the 2019 Classic with Vino Rosso. Besides Ashado, he also took the Distaff with Stopchargingmaria (2015) … Malathaat is one of many Grade 1 collaborations with fellow Hall of Famer Velazquez, who has 18 Breeders’ Cup wins. Together they won the 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) with Always Dreaming.


By Ray Wallin

Blue Stripe – Photo Courtesy of Zoe Metz

This filly’s last race in May in the Gran Premio Criadores (G1) at Palermo Racecourse was her biggest test to date. She held on as the 2-1 favorite to stymie longshot Soviet Catch in an exciting stretch drive to capture her first Group 1.

Immediately after that race connections of the owner, Haras Pozo De Luna, confirmed that Blue Stripe would in fact be pointed to the Distaff.

Blue Stripe owns two graded stakes wins and two shows with both wins coming over the Palermo surface where she is perfect in four starts. She has shown a solid improvement in each start this year.

This impressive effort is on the heels of capturing both the Clasico Arturo R. and Arturo Bullrich Stakes (G2) and the Clasico Haras Argentinos over the same Palermo Racecourse.

Chilean-American trainer Marcelo Polanco, who is based out of Santa Anita, takes over responsibility for Blue Stripe for Nicolas Martin Ferro. Ferro has been in constant contact with Polanco and has been visiting to personally supervise her development.

Polanco has saddled four Breeders’ Cup starters in the past and is still searching for his first victory. His last starter was in 2005 with Island Fashion in the Distaff who finished 10th after running fifth in the 2004 edition.

2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Profile: BLUE STRIPE

Post position: 4

Odds: 30-1

Jockey: Frankie Dettori

Trainer: Marcelo Polanco

Owner: Pozo de Luna, Inc.

Career record: 6-4-0-2

Career earnings: $41,882

Top Equibase speed figure: N/A

Pedigree: Equal Stripes-Blues for Sale, by Not For Sale

Color: Bay

Running style: Presser

Betting advice: This filly will certainly have long odds after facing weaker company in Argentina, despite her pedigree. Her best chance to hit the board for a minor share is to take advantage of a highly contested early pace.

Notes: Blue Stripe is a half-sister to the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Blue Prize … Dettori has 14 Breeders’ Cup wins in his stellar career, ranking fourth among leading riders … Dettori is looking for his first win in the Distaff – fourth aboard Crimplene in 2000 and with Stellar Jayne in 2005, and fifth on Mopotism in 2017.


By Margaret Ransom

Clariere – Photo Courtesy of Nikki Sherman/EQUI-PHOTO



Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings bred this talented 3-year-old daughter of Curlin, who is out of three-time Grade 1 winner Cavorting who herself ran in the Breeders’ Cup once and was fourth in the 2015 Filly & Mare Sprint. Curlin, a two-time Horse of the Year, won the 2007 Classic for Banke and her late husband, Jess Jackson. So, this filly is certainly bred for Breeders’ Cup glory.

Clairiere is coming off a nice win in the Cotillion Stakes (G1) at Parx in September, which came after a strong second in the 10-furlong Alabama (G1) at Saratoga behind Malathaat so this 9-furlong distance should not be any problem.

Clairiere is already in California with trainer Steve Asmussen’s Breeders’ Cup runners and worked 5 furlongs in 1:00 2/5 at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.

Under Asmussen, she’s only finished worse than third once in her nine career starts, a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (G1 in April.

2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Profile: CLAIRIERE

Post position: 5

Odds: 12-1

Jockey: Ricardo Santana, Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Stonestreet Stable (Barbara Banke)

Career record: 9-3-3-2

Career earnings: $1,190,992

Top Equibase speed figure: 109

Pedigree: Curlin-Cavorting, by Bernardini

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Betting advice: In a race with a hot early pace expected, as a late/stretch runner Clairiere will benefit probably the most. This will be her first start against older fillies and mares, which puts her at a slight disadvantage against the likes of Letruska and Shedaresthedevil. She is nothing if not consistent and deserves a long look for all exotics.

Notes: Stonestreet Stable has run 15 horses in the Breeders’ Cup, its most famous being Curlin; My Miss Aurelia won the 2011 Juvenile Fillies … Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has seven winners from 61 starters, including Curlin, 2017 Classic winner Gun Runner, 2019 Sprint winner Mitole, 2011 Turf Sprint winner Regally Ready, 2012 Dirt Mile winner Tapizar, and 2014 Distaff winner Untapable … Ricardo Santana, Jr. has two winners from 23 mounts — Fire at Will in last year’s Juvenile Turf and Mitole in the 2019 Sprint.



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.

Letruska – Photo Courtesy of NYRA.com

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.

2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Profile: LETRUSKA

Post position: 6

Odds: 8-5

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

Color: Bay

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.


By Noel Michaels

Horologist at the Beldame Stakes – Photo Courtesy of Janet Garaguso


Horologist owns six career wins, including two in 2021. Both victories were in ungraded stakes races, first at Aqueduct in April’s Top Flight Invitational and then at Saratoga in August’s Summer Colony Stakes.

Horologist has yet to earn a Grade 1 win. Her best career win so far was in the 2020 Beldame (G2) at Belmont Park. Last year’s Beldame was a four-horse field where Letruska ran last as the 3-2 favorite. Horologist went for back-to-back Beldame wins this year but settled for second in her final prep for the Distaff.

This will be Horologist’s second Distaff appearance. She was supplemented in 2020 and went on to finish ninth in a 10-horse field.

Horologist has run on or close to the pace in all six career wins. She failed to make the lead in the 2020 Distaff.

Distaff rival Royal Flag appears to have her number, beating her this year in the Beldame and Saratoga’s Shuvee (G3).

2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Profile: HOROLOGIST

Post position: 7

Odds: 30-1

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owners: There’s A Chance Stable, Medallion Racing, Abbondanza Racing, LLC, Parkland Thoroughbreds, Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher

Career record: 26-9-4-4

Career earnings: $942,939

Top Equibase speed figure: 111

Pedigree: Gemologist-Cinderella Time, by Stephen Got Even

Color: Bay

Running style: Early speed

Betting advice: Made the lead in her final Breeders’ Cup prep in the Beldame (G1), but could not hold off Royal Flag, who beat her by four lengths. Needs to turn the tables on that rival, not to mention beat the likes of Shedaresthedevil and Letruska, which seems highly unlikely.

Notes: Jockey Junior Alvarado is looking for his first Breeders’ Cup win. His best finish from 10 mounts was second in 2020 Juvenile Fillies aboard Dayoutoftheoffice … Horologist is trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who has won 10 Breeders’ Cup races in his career, including a record five wins in the Distaff: Royal Delta (2011-12), Unrivaled Belle (2010), Escena (1998), and Ajina (1997) … Sire Gemologist was a Grade 1 winner of the Wood Memorial, and was retired at 3 with a record of five wins from seven starts … Horologist began his career racing in New Jersey in the barn of the late John Mazza, before being transferred to Richard Baltas as a 3-year-old. She was transferred to Mott’s stable in the second half of 2020.


By Noel Michaels

Shedaresthedevil – Courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Best known as the winner of the 2020 Kentucky Oaks (G1) over a field that included eventual Preakness winner Swiss Skydiver, Shedaresthedevil has gone on to enjoy an excellent 2021 season with four victories in five starts, including the Azeri Stakes (G2), the La Troienne (G1), and Del Mar’s Clement L. Hirsch (G1).

In her final prep for the Distaff, the 4-year-old filly trained by Brad Cox won the Locust Grove (G3) at Churchill Downs.

Her only loss this year came in the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park, where she finished third to Letruska and runner-up Bonny South – both set to run un the Distaff. The filly is 4-for-4 in two-turn races in 2021.

“I’m very pleased. The idea was to get her to break alertly, then get a good spot. That’s exactly what happened. She ran her race today and she’s very good when she does,’’ said her jockey Florent Geroux after the Hirsch. “I’d have to say she’s up there with the best mares I’ve ever ridden. This is her third Grade 1 win, and the fact that she showed she can run well on the track where the Breeders’ Cup will be held, that’s a good thing, too.”

In the Hirsch, Shedaresthedevil was denied the lead, but showed pace versatility by being able to win from just off the pace. She showed the same versatility – not needing the lead to win – when sitting off Gamine and then pouncing in the Churchill Downs stretch to win the Kentucky Oaks.

“She came out of her last race in really good order. She’s had a couple of breezes since and they’ve both been good moves,’’ Cox said after the Locust Grove. “We’ll continue to keep her on a Saturday schedule, and she’ll ship out (to Del Mar) on Monday (Nov. 1).”

Shedaresthedevil beat Letruska in the Azeri, and Letruska turned the tables in the Phipps.


2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Profile: SHEDARESTHEDEVIL

Post position: 8

Odds: 4-1

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owners: Flurry Racing Stables LLC, Qatar Racing Limited, Big Aut Farms

Career record: 19-6-2-4

Career earnings: $2,291,458

Top Equibase speed figure: 113

Pedigree: Daredevil-Starship Warpspeed, by Congrats

Color: Bay

Running style: Early speed

Betting advice: Likely second choice will be the No. 1 alternative for handicappers looking to beat favorite Letruska. She deserves to be in the chalky exacta boxes alongside Letruska and should also be included in multi-race wagers.

Notes: This will be Shedaresthedevil’s first and last Breeders’ Cup appearance … Shedaresthedevil is entered to be sold as a broodmare prospect at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale on Nov. 9 … Jockey Florent Geroux has compiled an excellent record early in his Breeders’ Cup career, having won seven times from his first 28 mounts … Geroux is a two-time winner of the Distaff in 2018 and 2020 aboard Monomoy Girl, also trained by Cox . . . Cox has trained seven Breeders’ Cup winners, including four in 2020.



By Jenny Kellner

As Time Goes By – Photo Courtesy of Benoit Photo

A runner-up finish to Private Mission in the Zenyatta Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita on Oct. 3 was good enough for trainer Bob Baffert to enter As Time Goes By in the Distaff to take on the biggest challenge of all – finding a way to upset 4-5 favorite Letruska and a slew of other star fillies and mares.

With two longshot chances – As Time Goes By is 15-1, Private Mission is 8-1 – Baffert is looking for his first victory in the Distaff.

As Time Goes By, a daughter of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, could be a factor in this one – the 4-year-old filly has won at the Distaff distance of 1 1/8 miles (the Grade 2 Santa Margarita), and seems to run well on off just off the lead. But Letruska is expected to start fast, and the big question is whether any other horse can keep up.

Baffert has won 17 Breeders’ Cup races and is by far the leader in Breeders’ Cup earnings.

As Time Goes By has three victories in seven starts in 2021 and comes into the Distaff off a fourth in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1), a sixth in the Personal Ensign (G1), and a second in the Zenyatta. She certainly seems ready to go again after a 5-furlong workout in 1:00.40 on Oct. 24 at Santa Anita, the fourth fastest of 64 on the day.

2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Profile: AS TIME GOES BY

Post position: 9

Odds: 15-1

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith

Career record: 10-4-3-1

Career earnings: $455,600

Top Equibase speed figure: 107

Pedigree: American Pharoah-Take Charge Lady, by Dehere

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/front-runner

Betting advice: Big question is whether this 4-year-old has enough speed to stick with the leaders, particularly Letruska. With such a deep, talented field, it seems unlikely Baffert’s runner-up to stablemate Private Mission can overcome this task, or even hit the board.

Notes: Baffert, of course, is under intense scrutiny for so many post-race positives, with the Derby issue still unresolved regarding Medina Spirit (he won, but failed a post-race medication test that awaits a final decision by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission … Dam is multiple graded stakes winner Take Charge Lady, who ran in three Breeders’ Cup races, finishing sixth in all three – the 2001 Juveniles Fillies and the 2002 and 2003 Distaff … And, of course, American Phaorah won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic following his Triple Crown sweep.



By Ed McNamara

Marche Lorraine – Photo Courtesy of Candice Chavez

In 1999 I was there at Longchamp, along with thousands of passionate Japanese fans, when their hero El Condor Pasa finished a close second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. That performance signaled a rise for Japanese racing and breeding that has continued ever since. You may recall Japan-based Lani, a deep closer who finished third in the 2016 Belmont Stakes after running ninth in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Preakness.

Japan still hasn’t won an Arc, but its superstar Orfevre did run second in 2012 and 2013. Orfevre happens to be the sire of Distaff longshot Marche Lorraine, but his 5-year-old daughter’s resume doesn’t come close to measuring up to daddy’s. Marche Lorraine never has won a graded stakes, and the Distaff will be her first try for a Grade 1 trophy. It seems most unlikely that her 11,000-mile round trip will be profitable.

Her trainer, however, has excelled in races far from home. The gregarious Yoshito Yahagi trains Loves Only You, a Grade 1 winner in Japan and Hong Kong and a contender for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. She finished a close third to multiple Grade 1 champion Mishriff this past March in the Dubai Sheema Classic. Last year, Yahagi swept Japan’s Triple Crown with the colt Contrail, who was second Oct. 31 in the Grade 1 Tenno Sho. Two years ago, Yahagi took the Cox Plate, one of Australia’s most prestigious races, with Lys Gracieux. Yahagi, nattily dressed in a fedora with a pink band, enjoyed a wild celebration after watching his mare’s wide rally from far back.

If you think it’s time for Japan’s first Breeders’ Cup victory, a longshot play on turf standout Loves Only You would make more sense than one on stable companion Marche Lorraine.

2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Profile: MARCHE LORRAINE

Post position: 10

Odds: 30-1

Jockey: Oslin Murphy

Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi

Owner: Carrot Farm

Career record: 20-8-2-2

Career earnings: $1,805,677

Pedigree: Orfevre-Stay Gold, by French Deputy

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Betting advice: She’s 0-for-3 lifetime in graded stakes in Japan, where she hasn’t faced standouts such as Letruska, Shedaresthedevil and Malathaat. No chance.

Notes: Marche Lorraine hasn’t run since winning a 1 1/4-mile ungraded stakes on Aug. 12 at Mombetsu Racecourse in Japan. Some positives: She’s 3-for-3 on fast tracks and 2-for-3 with a second at the Distaff’s 1 1/8-mile distance … What’s in a name? “La Marche Lorraine,” written in 1892, is a patriotic song that is part of the repertoire of France’s military bands … Marche Lorraine breezed 5 furlongs in 1:05.60, the slowest of 15 works at the distance, on Oct. 29 at Del Mar.


By Ed McNamara

Dunbar Road – Photo Courtesy of Chelsea Durand

Most of Chad Brown’s horses improve with age, but Dunbar Road went in the other direction. This 5-year-old mare never recaptured the excellent form of her 3-year-old season, in which she won two Grade 1s, the Mother Goose and the Alabama. She looked like a potential superstar after dominating her debut by 8 3/4 lengths and taking three of her next four races. Since then, she’s 2-for-10, including 1-for-9 in graded stakes.

Dunbar Road is one of those horses who benefits her owner much more than win bettors. She’s a big-time earner ($1.358 million) who’s finished in the top three in 11 of 15 career starts, all but two of them stakes. Yet she finished fifth and third in the past two Distaffs without ever looking like a winner (total margin 9 1/2 lengths).

She’s lost six in a row, although her recent second in the Grade 1 Spinster behind division leader Letruska was encouraging. Dunbar Road closed almost two lengths in the stretch after chasing the pace three- and four-wide. In the race before that, the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, Dunbar Road rallied to be fourth but only three-quarters of a length behind Letruska. For a few strides in mid-stretch it appeared as if she might catch the winner, but no.

Dunbar Road is on the upswing, having produced career-top Beyers (100, 98) in her last two races. She’s a must-use underneath in exotics as she’s 5-for-8 lifetime at 1 1/8 miles but with only one win at the distance.

2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Profile: DUNBAR ROAD

Post position: TBD

Odds: TBD

Jockey: TBD

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Peter Brant

Career record: 15-6-2-3

Career earnings: $1,358,740

Top Equibase speed figure: 111

Pedigree: Quality Road-Gift List, by Bernardini

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker/closer

Betting advice: A Distaff victory would be a major surprise. She’s likely to pick up the pieces by passing tired horses late, but I can’t recommend a win bet.

Notes: Dunbar Road breezed 4 furlongs in 49 seconds Oct. 23 at Keeneland, her only workout since the Spinster 13 days earlier … She’s named for the street where owner Peter Brant lives in Palm Beach, Florida … Brant, 74, made his fortune in the paper mill industry, as a magazine publisher, film producer and art collector. He campaigned stars Just a Game, Waya and Gulch in the 1970s and 1980s. He left racing for 20 years before returning in 2016. Brown trained his 2018 champion mare Sistercharlie, a multiple-stakes winner who won the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Brant also owned France-based Sottsass, winner of the 2020 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff Odds

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
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
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