Breeders’ Cup Distaff contenders get their first taste of the Keeneland track

November 3, 2020

Ollie’s Candy

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Distaff contenders for the 37th Breeders’ Cup World Championships arrive for their first works on the Keeneland track.

Ce Ce – Bo Hirsch’s Ce Ce got her first sampling of the main track at Keeneland at 6 o’clock Tuesday morning galloping under exercise rider Osman Cedeno for trainer Michael McCarthy. Ce Ce had galloped on the all-weather training track Monday morning following her arrival from her Southern California base. 

Ce Ce, who will be ridden by John Velazquez in Saturday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff drew post position one and is 12-1 on the morning line. 

“I was hoping for somewhere between four and eight,” McCarthy said. “Coming out of a seven-eighths race (the Derby City Distaff in which she finished fourth), I expect her to be forwardly placed just in behind the first flight.” 

Dunbar Road – Peter Brant’s Dunbar Road, one day after arriving from New York, jogged a circuit of Keeneland’s main track. The 2019 Alabama winner has pleased trainer Chad Brown with her preparation and will run in the Longines Distaff for the second consecutive year, having finished fifth of 11 in 2019 at Santa Anita. She enters off a lackluster performance in the Beldame at Belmont, finishing third by 5¼ lengths after going off as the even-money favorite.

“I don’t know what happened in her last race,” Brown said. “The only thing I can say—I know it’s an unpopular excuse—but maybe she didn’t like the track. She trained really, really well, but then just never picked her feet up in the race. I was so shocked by it. She’s come back and trained brilliantly.

“She has a run at Keeneland before, last year, and I thought she ran quite well,” Brown continued. “She had a tough, tight trip down inside and should have won the Spinster.”

This season, Dunbar Road has raced just three times, winning the Shawnee Stakes at Churchill Downs in May before landing July’s Delaware Handicap by 3 lengths.

Harvest Moon – Alice Bamford and Michael Tabor’s Harvest Moon was back on the main track at 6 o’clock to gallop a day after jogging on Keeneland’s all-weather training track. 

Trained by Simon Callaghan, Harvest Moon drew post two for Saturday’s Distaff and will be partnered as she has in her past four starts by Flavien Prat. Harvest Moon is 12-1 on the morning line. 

“That should be OK,” Callaghan said. “All the speed is to her outside and she should be able to get a good position.” 

Horologist – New Jersey-bred Horologist—owned by Medallion racing, Abbondanza racing, Parkland Thoroughbreds, There’s A Chance Stable, Paradise Farms Corp. and David Staudacher—will attempt to give trainer Bill Mott a record-extending sixth win in the Longines Distaff on Saturday and drew post four of 10 in the race. Junior Alvarado will ride, seeking his first Breeders’ Cup trophy. 

“I feel really good about her,” Alvarado said. “She ran a big race at Belmont. They were going pretty quick and I was worried, but when I asked her, she really kicked for me and came home fast. I know it’s a good race, but I have a lot of confidence in her and I think she could be one of my best chances on Saturday.” 

Alvarado has five mounts in this weekend’s Championship races.

Lady Kate – Lady Kate jogged and galloped at Churchill Downs and will train again there Wednesday prior to shipping to Keeneland. All Breeders’ Cup entrants for Saturday’s races must be at Keeneland by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Lady Kate, fourth behind Distaff entrants Valiance and Ollie’s Candy in Keeneland’s Juddmonte Spinster Stakes Oct. 4, drew the No. 6 post position in the field of 10.

“We are happy with the post position,” trainer Eddie Kenneally said. “It is a strong, deep race with very good fillies and mares and we are not under estimating any of them. This is the biggest race of her career and she is coming into it phenomenal. She couldn’t be doing any better and she couldn’t look any better.”

Monomoy Girl – The 2018 Longines Distaff winner Monomoy Girl left the barn to gallop with regular exercise rider Fernando Espinoza at 7:50 a.m. and continues to impress as she attempts her second victory in the 1 1/8m race. She missed all of 2019 because of a series of minor setbacks, but has been perfect in three starts this year, including the La Troienne on the Kentucky Oaks undercard Sept. 4 in her most recent start.

“We considered the Spinster (Oct. 4) after the La Troienne, but we thought with the timing it worked out better to go straight into the Distaff given the fact that we have spaced her races out this year,” trainer Brad Cox said. “It seems to be working well. We wanted to stay on the same pattern. She couldn’t be doing any better.”

Ollie’s Candy – Paul and Karen Eggert’s Ollie’s Candy galloped 1 1/2m on the main track under Juan Leyva for trainer John Sadler. 

Rated as a 10-1 chance on the morning line for the Distaff, Ollie’s Candy will break from post nine under Joel Rosario. 

“The post is fine,” Sadler said. “It is a little bit outside but I prefer it to being inside.” 

Fourth in the Distaff last year at Santa Anita, Ollie’s Candy is winless in 2020 but has three runner-up finishes and two thirds from five starts that all came in Grade 1 races. 

“It is tremendously frustrating being a head or neck from winning Grade 1s,” Sadler said. “Her owner (Paul Eggert) has a saying that maybe she is saving her luck for the big day.” 

Ollie’s Candy has raced at five tracks in 2020, most recently at Keeneland where she was second in the Juddmonte Spinster Oct. 4. 

“I don’t think she cares that much for the main track at Santa Anita,” Sadler said. “She has run all over … Oaklawn, Belmont, Keeneland … and even though she hasn’t won, I think her form is better and her speed figures are better.” 

Point of Honor – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Stetson Racing LLC’s Point of Honor galloped 1 3/8m over Keeneland’s main track Tuesday morning in preparation for a start in the Distaff.

Despite finishing 1-2-3 in 10 of 11 career starts, including five Grade 1 placings, Point of Honor was rated at 30-1 following Monday’s post position draw for the particularly deep Distaff field.

“She’s shown up every time. Even though she’s not winning, she hits the board,” trainer George Weaver said. “You always see her face coming down the lane.”

Weaver understands the imposing challenge the 4yo daughter of Curlin will face while meeting the likes of Monomoy Girl, the 8-5 morning line favorite who won the 2018 Distaff and is undefeated this year, and Swiss Skydiver, the 2020 Preakness winner who is rated at 2-1.

“They don’t give these races away. They’re championship races. You don’t find easy spots,” he said. “Throughout the year, you might find an easy one, but this is where everyone comes together, which makes it a special event.”

Swiss Skydiver – Peter Callahan’s Swiss Skydiver made her usual early appearance Tuesday morning with regular rider Robby Albarado on board and jogged once around before an easy 1 1/2m gallop.

The Daredevil filly has only made one start at Keeneland in her career when second in the Blue Grass to Art Collector in July, but she does hold a bit of a home-court advantage in the Distaff.

“She’s stabled here a lot in her career, that bottom barn has been our base for a long time,” trainer Kenny McPeek said. “She knows the routine of walking up the hill. Robby’s getting on her all week. He wanted to, which I like. She’s just doing pretty basic stuff.”

Swiss Skydiver, who was second in the Kentucky Oaks, enters the Distaff off her victory against males in the Preakness Stakes, which was a very satisfying victory for McPeek.

“It was pretty awesome,” McPeek said. “We stuck our necks out because we thought she deserved a chance. It was a tough call because we had to decide to go against straight 3-year-olds or go against older horses. We felt like the upside was there and she came through for us. It was very cool.”

Valiance – The winner of Keeneland’s Spinster on Oct. 4 got reacquainted with the track Tuesday morning after arriving Monday from trainer Todd Pletcher’s Belmont Park base.

“I love the way she has been training,” Pletcher said. “She was very enthusiastic this morning.”

Valiance has won six of eight career starts by racing just behind the leaders in the early parts of the race.

“I think (the eight of 10) post position in the Distaff is fine,” Pletcher said. “With a mile and an eighth race, you have time to get over and see how the race unfolds. What is important for her is to get in a good steady rhythm. There is enough pace in there, so I suspect she will be in the second tier.”

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