- Saturday’s Breeders Cup action at Del Mar features nine Grade 1 races
- Letruska can clinch the Champion Older Mare title with a win in the Distaff
- Where are the best opportunities to find prices Saturday Where the Surf Meets the Turf?
The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, a fairly wide-open affair this year, attracts a lot of attention. We highly recommend reading about it and pondering a wager. However, what makes Breeders Cup Saturday bigger than any other racing day on the calendar is the undercard. Saturday’s action at Del Mar outside of the Classic totals $15 million in purses and presents lots of opportunities to cash sizeable tickets.
With big international fields and good weather expected there are a lot of ways to dissect the Breeders’ Cup. Let’s go in-depth on the Distaff, a $2 million race for the top females in the world, and then discuss each of the other Grade 1 events Saturday in Southern California.
The Distaff is all about Letruska. Can she be beaten? If so, how, and by who? Let’s break down the odds and betting options.
2021 Breeders Cup Distaff Odds
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Odds as of November 4th
The Breeders’ Cup Distaff is a-mile-and-an-eighth on the main track. Post time is slated for 7:00 pm EST. The entire undercard will be televised by the NBC Sports Network, with NBC covering the Breeders Cup Classic. Horse racing sites are a great place to get involved in the day’s action.
The Distaff, formerly know as the Ladies Classic, is the top race in America limited to female horses. Monomoy Girl won in 2018, and last year became the fourth two-time winner of the event. Zenyatta took the crown in 2008, and the next year beat the boys in the Classic.
So can anybody beat Letruska at the Breeders’ Cup? Let’s examine the field.
Letruska was not a prized horse when she was bred for less than $2,000. She ran her first six races in Mexico, winning each, which is sort of like hitting 40 home runs in Double-A. She won four of her first eight races in the United States, earning a graded stakes victory in the process. Since then, she’s been incredible. She has seven wins in eight starts over the past 13 months.
Letruska’s only loss in 2021 came in a troubled trip. She nearly fell exiting the starting gate at Oaklawn Park in March, and then was forced wide. Shedaresthedevil, who was able to establish an easy and unhurried advantage, barely held her off at the wire.
If you want to knock Letruska, consider that her speed figures are not amazing. In fact, they are below what the average winner of the BC Juvenile runs. Several horses in this race have one or two comparable figs, though nobody has been nearly as consistent running strong races as Letruska. There also could be pace pressure on her.
One of the most fun parts of the Breeders Cup is we get to see three-year-old stars meet their elders. Case in point is Kentucky Oaks winner Malathaat. She has six wins in seven career starts. This is her first try against more seasoned foes.
If you like Essential Quality in the Breeders Cup Classic, you probably like Malathaat in the Distaff. Both three-year-olds consistently find a way, though they don’t always look dominating in doing so. Both also prefer to sit off the pace and make a big move late, and that could be good news on Saturday when the Distaff and Classic are loaded with early speed. For what it is worth, Malathaat’s best career Beyer Speed Figure has been eclipsed by Letruska on six occasions.
Shedaresthedevil won the Kentucky Oaks in 2020. Held in September because of COVID-19, her upset over Gamine and Swiss Skydiver may have been the Race of the Year. She broke the century-old Oaks record time, and since then has four wins in six races. She has beaten Letruska once and lost to her once.
Like Letruska, Shedaresthedevil strongly prefers running on the lead for most of the race.
Royal Flag has lost to Letruska twice but was compromised by a speed-favoring track at Saratoga in August. She rebounded with a really strong performance last time out.
What makes the Beldame so impressive is there was no big-time pace to run into, yet Royal Flag still made a significant move and won easily. She’ll probably be further behind on Saturday, looking to make a big decisive run down the stretch.
Horologist has twice recently lost to Royal Flag, but has a win in her career over that foe, and even beat Letruska, badly, 13 months ago.
It has been a year or more since Horologist ran a race strong enough to beat this field, but trainer Bill Mott has won the Distaff a record five times, and the five-year-old is versatile. She can win on the lead, or rally late.
Pick: Royal Flag (+700)
The Rest of the November 6 Breeders’ Cup Undercard
Starting with the Filly and Mare Sprint just after 3:00 pm EST, and ending with the Turf at around 7:40 pm, the eight races before the Classic are loaded. Let’s discuss each and see where we can find a decent price or two.
Filly and Mare Sprint Prediction
Nobody wants to face Gamine at the Breeders’ Cup. Only four rivals are signed up to battle against a filly who was sold for $1.8 million before ever running a step. She has earned nearly all of that back, winning nine of 10 career races. Her lone loss was to Shedaresthedevil in the record-setting Kentucky Oaks. Gamine has never lost in a one-turn race.
You could argue Gamine was more dominant last year than this, but she essentially has never trailed, and only occasionally has been seriously challenged.
Top contender Bella Sofia also likes to get going early on. Could she soften up Gamine, and allow Ce Ce to run by the big favorite late? Ce Ce was fifth in the Distaff last year. Since then she has three wins in five starts and finished third behind Gamine at The Spa in August.
Turf Sprint Prediction
This may be a battle between Golden Pal and the best Europe has to offer. Golden Pal won the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf last year, and was terrific at Keeneland last month.
Everything about that race is impressive. The pace was fast, and when challenged he responded and drew off. That said, two trips to Europe resulted in a second, and seventh-place performance. Now the Euros are coming to him.
Glass Slippers won this race last year at +1000. His only career race in America was followed by an extended rest, and three third-place finishes against top-tier horses. Now he is back in the US.
A Case of You beat Glass Slippers in Ireland two months ago, and at the start of October in France. A three-year-old, he has five wins in 10 career starts.
Emaraaty Ana has run three straight good races in Great Britain. He beat a so so field in July, finished a very strong second against top grade competition including Golden Pal in August, and at the start of September beat a tough group
Pick: Golden Pal
Dirt Mile Prediction
If Gamine is not the most likely winner on Saturday, then Life is Good might be. Seven rivals are challenging the horse that was on his way to being the Kentucky Derby favorite last year before getting injured. He barely lost to Jackie’s Warrior in August at Saratoga, and some think jockey Mike Smith cost him the victory. With Jose Ortiz aboard, he cruised in September at Belmont Park.
It is nearly impossible to be ahead of Life Is Good early in races, so who can come from behind?
If the pace is hot enough, Silver State should be running late. He always mounts a rally, and while he has finished second and third in two races since a six-race winning streak, Silver State was facing Knicks Go when he settled for third in The Whitney Stakes, and just missed last time out at PARX.
Pick: Life Is Good
Filly and Mare Turf Prediction
War Like Goddess is the big hope for American horses, while at least four international runners have a good shot in this Breeders’ Cup race too.
War Like Goddess has won six of seven career races and mostly has taken care of business with relative ease.
How will she do against the top Euros? We’re about to find out.
Audarya won this race last year but is marooned in the #12 post position. She has not won in four tries against top competition in Europe this summer and fall.
Love beat Audarya in June. Love went three-for-three last year, but has only a single victory in four tries against top competition this year. She ran third against world-class turfer Mishriff in August, and finished second last time out in a Group 2 event in Ireland.
Rougir can be irritable but beat Audarya in early October as the favorite. It was her first win of the year.
And what about Japan’s great hope? Loves Only You has had this race as a stated goal, is working great and finished third against Mishriff in Dubai in March. Her only race over the past six months was a second-place performance in a field of 13 in Japan in August.
The third and final obvious race on the Breeders’ Cup card is the Sprint. Jackie’s Warrior, like Gamine and Life Is Good, looks much the best. The way to really make money is to beat one of them. How likely is that?
Jackie’s Warrior has lost just once in one-turn races. He has eight wins in 11 career starts and is eight for nine when contending with a single bend. As mentioned previously, he may have gotten a pinch lucky when beating Life Is Good in August.
That was a rare close race for Jackie’s Warrior. Most have been much easier, like a six-length score last time out at PARX.
Top challengers Special Reserve and Dr. Schivel both seem to want to run fast early, a poor plan against the ultra-quick Jackie’s Warrior.
Perhaps Aloha West, who should be closing with interest, can get up to complete the exacta, or come away with a shocking victory.
Pick: Jackie’s Warrior
Not only is Mo Forza unbeaten this year, but he also lost only a single time last year too. A three-time winner at Del Mar, Mo Forza has won four straight and eight of his last nine.
How good has Mo Forza’s competition been? Not as good as he is facing in this race.
Space Blues won a Group 1 race in France in October, after taking a Group 2 in the UK in August. He won a $1 million event in Saudi Arabia in February. All told the Irish bred has put together seven wins in his last nine starts. That said, none of them have been this far? He won races at this distance or beyond in 2019 but recently has done his best work at seven furlongs.
Brazilian bred In Love has been running in America for over a year after starting his career in Argentina. He has three straight wins, including a grade 1 score at Keeneland at this distance last month. A repeat of that career-best effort would put him in the mix.
Pick: Space Blues
Europeans have won this marathon 10 of the last 13 years. If a mile-and-a-quarter on dirt is the signature distance and surface for American horses, this mile-and-a-half turf test is what the Euros strive for.
Tarnawa is brilliant. She beat the boys in this race last year, and since then has run three times, all against male rivals, and finished first once, and second twice.
Last year Tarnawa was not the favorite, Magical, also from across the pond was. Magical settled for second. Could we be in store for a repeat at this year’s Breeders’ Cup? Magical is not in this field, but many other quality Euros are.
Walton Street made his North American debut crushing a Grade 1 field at Woodbine in September. The seven-year-old ran a good fourth against Mishriff in March.
Yibir came to the US and scored at Belmont Park seven weeks ago in a Grade 1. He won a Group 2 event in Great Britain in August.
Teona is a three-year-old filly who beat boys in the UK in August and got by top girls in France in September.
As far as American’s go, Domestic Spending is solid. After winning four straight races, he finished second in the oddly run Mr D Stakes at Arlington Park in August. There was no pace in that event, and Domestic Spending still rallied to just miss.