By Richard Rosenblatt
Blue Prize outkicked even-money favorite Midnight Bisou through the stretch and pulled clear for an emphatic victory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Santa Anita on Saturday.
The loss was the first this year in eight starts for Midnight Bisou, who came into the race as a leading Horse of the Year candidate.
The 1 1/8-mile Distaff unfolded with Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Serengeti Empress setting the pace, ticking off a quarter-mile in 22.98 seconds and the half in 46.68.
Midnight Bisou, about six lengths off the pace-setter under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, was side by side with Blue Prize with a half mile to go. But Blue Prize, under Joe Bravo, spurted away from the favorite and was perfectly place to wrest the lead from Serengeti Empress leaving the eighth pole and was easily able to stave off Midnight Bisou’s belated run.
Sent off at 8-1, Blue Prize, trained by Ignacio Correas IV, returned $19.80 for a $2 win bet. The winning time was 1:50.50. It was the 5-year-old mare’s third victory in a row coming on the heels of an upset of Classic-runner Elate in the Spinster (G1) at Keeneland.
“She was so forwardly focused,’’ said Bravo, who won his first Breeders’ Cup race. “I was watching Midnight Bisou, and she wasn’t quite doing with Mike (Smith) wanted her to do.”
Midnight Bisou, trained by Steve Asmussen, had been perfect in her 4-year-old campaign, including Grade 1 victories in the Personal Ensign, the Ogden Phipps and the Apple Blossom.
It was supposed to be the final race of Midnight Bisou’s career, but owners Bloom Racing Stables, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing apparently changed course and decided to keep her racing next year.
“It was a gallant effort on his part,’’ Smith said. “I’d like to have gotten clear earlier. Congratulations to the winner.”
|1||11||Blue Prize||Ignacio Correas||Joe Bravo|
|2||4||Midnight Bisou||Steven Asmussen||Mike Smith|
|3||9||Serengeti Empress||Thomas Amoss||Flavien Prat|
|4||2||Ollie’s Candy||John Sadler||Joel Rosario|
|5||5||Dunbar Road||Chad Brown||Jose Ortiz|
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.