By Margaret Ransom
Maker’s Mark is the title sponsor of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, which will be contested for the 24th time and the year-end contest is often a predictor of who will be crowned champion in the older female turf division in North America. Only ten times since first being contested has the Breeders’ Cup winner’s connections not collected the Eclipse Award.
The race is normally contested at 1 ¼ miles or 1 3/8 miles, depending on host track’s turf course configuration, but this year, as was in 2015 and 2020, the race will be contested at 1 3/16 miles because of Keeneland’s track and turf course layout. It has also been contested at 1 1/8 miles — once at Del Mar in 2017.
Ouija Board is the only two-time winner of the race (2004, 2006) and she was also second in 2005 behind Intercontinental. Her connections were rewarded with the Eclipse Award in both years she won this race. Chad Brown, who is a four-time Eclipse Award-winner himself, has saddled four winners of this race beginning with Zagora in 2012. Dayatthespa followed for Brown in 2014, Stephanie’s Kitten in 2015 and Sistercharlie in 2018. Hall of Fame John Velazquez is the race’s top jockey having booted home three winners (2002, 2011 and 2018.)
A year ago, the Japanese superstar Loves Only You stormed to a half-length victory in a first victory in the race for Japan. She won her last race, the Longines Hong Kong Cup (G1T), before being retired to broodmare duty.
Dank in 2013 set the stakes record for the 1 ¼-mile distance when she stopped the teletimer in 1:58.73 and Perfect Sting went the 1 3/8 miles in 2:13.07 in 2000. Audarya stopped the Teletimer in 1:52.72 in 2020 to hold the stakes record at Keeneland for this distance.