2018 Breeders’ Cup: Distaff Duel Looming

Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff Looks Exciting

A scintillating matchup between divisional leaders Monomoy Girl and Abel Tasman makes the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff one of the most compelling of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races to be held November 2-3 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The $2 million Distaff, run at 1 1/8 miles, figures to serve as the perfect supporting act to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic as racing’s signature championship event is run under the Twin Spires for the ninth time.

Breeders' Cup Trophy, Churchill Downs

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Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stable, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stable’s Monomoy Girl rates as the undisputed leader of the 3-year-old filly division off a 5-for-5 record this year for trainer Brad Cox. The daughter of 2012 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar has won four straight Grade I’s; Keeneland’s Ashland in April, the Kentucky Oaks Video at Churchill in May, Acorn at Belmont Park in June and Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga July 22, to seize control of the division and will put her 8-for-9 record on the line Saturday’s in Parx Racing’s Cotillion (GI). Monomoy Girl tuned up for the 1 1/16-mile race when she worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 September 16 at Churchill, giving Cox plenty of confidence for the Cotillion and beyond.

“We’ve faced a lot of these contenders before and we’ll probably have to face them again in November for the Breeders’ Cup,” Cox said. “She still has to perform to her top level, even though she’s beaten them before. Just like Monomoy is doing, these horses could be getting better as time goes on.”

China Horse Club International and Clearsky Farm’s Abel Tasman herself won the Oaks last year at Churchill before ultimately finishing second in the Distaff at Del Mar to cement a 3-Year-Old Filly championship for trainer Bob Baffert. The 4-year-old daughter of Quality Road has picked up where she left off this year and has won back-to-back Grade I “Win and You’re In” automatic qualifiers for the Distaff in Belmont’s Ogden Phipps in June and Saratoga’s Personal Ensign August 25. Abel Tasman is 8-for-14 lifetime and figures to train up to the Distaff.

Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm’s homebred Elate is the wildcard in the Distaff, should she start, as trainer Bill Mott has indicated he may run her in this year’s Classic. The 4-year-old daughter of 2010 Classic winner Blame was second, beaten just a neck in a roughly run Personal Ensign and won her only other start this year in the Delaware Handicap (GII) at Delaware Park in July. Elate, who is 5-for-12 lifetime, will prep for either the Distaff or Classic in Belmont’s October 6 Beldame (GI), a race she won last year before running fourth in the Distaff.

Merriebelle Stable’s Blue Prize (ARG), who earned a Distaff berth with her win in Churchill’s “Win and You’re In” Fleur de Lis (GII) in June and won Saturday’s Locust Grove at Churchill for trainer Ignacio Correas, is also pointing to race, as are standout 3-year-old fillies Eskimo Kisses, Midnight Bisou and Wonder Gadot, who have combined to win seven stakes this year. Chocolate Martini, Farrell, Ivy Bell, La Force and Mopotism could also start in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Source: Press Release

2018 KY Oaks Winner Monomoy Girl Looking Sharp

Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) winner Monomoy Girl was originally scheduled to breeze Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. (all times Eastern) at Churchill Downs but when overnight rain left the track “muddy,” the multiple Grade I winning filly was permitted to work five furlongs in :59.40 over a “fast” surface at 12:15 p.m. prior to the first race.

With regular rider Florent Geroux aboard, the Brad Cox-trained daughter of Tapizar breezed in company with 5-year-old gelding and $400,940-earner Dazzling Gem through splits of :13, :25, :36.60 and :48.40 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.80 and seven-eighths of a mile in 1:26.40.

“It was a really solid work,” Cox said. “It was exactly what we were looking for. We really wanted to keep her on a schedule with 13 days out from the race. We could’ve breezed her on the mud this morning but it would’ve been more of a maintenance work and I wanted to do something a little more with her. The track was better this afternoon and she did it the right way. If she can keep putting things together in the afternoon as she does in the morning training she’ll be tough in the Acorn.”

“The horse she breezed with is pretty nice,” Geroux said. “She did everything really well and worked easy. She got by (Dazzling Gem) with no problem and galloped out well.”

Monomoy Girl (7-6-1-0—$1,120,750), who is preparing for a start in the $700,000 Acorn (GI) on the June 9 Belmont Stakes undercard, defeated 13 rivals to win the Kentucky Oaks by a half-length over Wonder Gadot.

“I still pinch myself that we actually won the Oaks,” Louisville native Cox said. “I’m so proud of our whole team and this filly. She’s the real deal.”

Source: Press Release

2018 Kentucky Oaks Thoughts According to Dew

by Justin Dew

It seems pretty clear that Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou, both of whom’s names trigger my iPad to tell me that I misspelled a word, are going to be your favorite and co-favorite in the Kentucky Oaks. They’ve done impressive things on the racetrack, and bettors will wager on them accordingly. But the key to betting on any race is to find value, and I think there are reasons to take a stand against one of them while using the other with perhaps a bigger price in the exotics.

First, Midnight Bisou. My gut tells me she will be at her best around one turn. I realize she is a dual-graded stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles, but those wins came against questionable competition. And I’m also not a huge fan of taking a short price on a daughter of Midnight Lute at 9 furlongs shipping east for the first time, especially when I suspect she’ll try to come from behind. She’s good. But I don’t think this will be her best game.

Monomoy Girl confuses me a little. She has two wins coming from way back, and four other wins going wire-to-wire. My guess is she will be part of the Oaks pace, and the way she drew off in the Ashland suggests that she won’t have a problem with the additional 100 yards. The question with her is the price. She’ll be favored. Additionally, she won’t be able to coast alone like she did at Keeneland. So she’ll need to really be the best filly to win this, because I don’t see her stealing it.

As for who are the most logical alternatives, I think there are a few ways you can go. For one, I think it’s interesting that Kieran McLaughlin is pointing the very promising Sara Street to another race Derby weekend. Is that because he thinks Take Charge Paula has a big shot? And what about Coach Rocks, who just beat Take Charge Paula? Does she have another move forward in her? Or do we need to look to the Oaklawn and Fair Grounds preps? Or the Gazelle?

I can probably make an interesting case for five or six of the alternatives to the top two. And since I just don’t love either‘s chances, the key to cashing big on the Oaks, for me, is to figure out who is prime for her best effort at a big price.

Monomoy Girl the One to Beat in G1 Ashland Stakes

Press Release

Monomoy Stables, Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables’ Monomoy Girl has been installed as the 4-5 favorite in a field of seven 3-year-old fillies entered for Saturday’s 81st running of the $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) at Keeneland.

The 1 1/16-mile main track test offers 170 points toward the $1 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) to be run May 4 at Churchill Downs with 100 going to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third place and 10 to fourth. The Oaks is limited to the top 14 point earners that pass the entry box and currently the cut line is 21 points.

The Central Bank Ashland, one of five graded stakes races Saturday, will go as the ninth race on the 11-race program with a 5:45 p.m. ET post time. First post time Saturday is 1:05 p.m.

Trained by Brad Cox and to be ridden by Florent Geroux, Monomoy Girl has won four of five career starts. In her lone 2018 outing, she won the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 17. Monomoy Girl’s only defeat was a runner-up finish by a neck in the Golden Rod (G2) in November at Churchill Downs.

Monomoy Girl will break from post position one.

copyright Rich Nilsen

Keeneland paddock (copyright All Star Press)

Second choice on the morning line at 2-1 is Magdalena Racing, Gainesway Stable and Harold Lerner’s Eskimo Kisses. Runner-up in the TwinSpires Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in her most recent start on March 24, Eskimo Kisses will break from post position two. She is trained by two-time Central Bank Ashland winner Kenny McPeek and will be ridden by Corey Lanerie.

Lanerie is one of five riders to have won the Central Bank Ashland three times. A victory Saturday would make him the first to win the race in three consecutive years. Lanerie won with Hooh Why in 2009,Weep No More in 2016 and Sailor’s Valentine in 2017.

Other graded stakes winners in the field include Craig Upham’s Patrona Margarita and Don Alberto Corp.’s Andina Del Sur.

Trained by Bret Calhoun, Patrona Margarita won the Pocahontas (G2) in September at Churchill and did not return to the races until February when she finished fourth behind Monomoy Girl in the Rachel Alexandra. Patrona Margarita will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. and break from post position three.

Trained by Tom Albertrani, Andina Del Sur will be making her main track debut Saturday. Winner of the Florida Oaks (G3) in her most recent start, Andina Del Sur has raced exclusively on turf in her four-race career. Julien Leparoux has the mount and will break from post position five.

The field for the Central Bank Ashland, with riders and morning-line odds, from the rail out is: Monomoy Girl (Geroux, 4-5), Eskimo Kisses (Lanerie, 2-1), Patrona Margarita (Hernandez Jr., 15-1), C. S.Incharge (Luis Saez, 10-1), Andina Del Sur (Leparoux, 6-1), Ipanema Beach (Chris Landeros, 20-1) and Tyfosha (Irad Ortiz Jr., 15-1). All starters will carry 121 pounds.