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Check out our predictions and odds for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland!
D W Lukas
AWAKE AT MIDNYTE
I Ortiz Jr
*Odds provided reflect the Keeneland morning line.
$10 Trifecta Key - Nest over Clairiere over Malathaat and Search Results = $20
$10 Trifecta Key - Nest over Malathaat and Search Results over Clairiere = $20
$5 Trifecta Key - Clairiere over Nest over Malathaat and Search Results = $10
$5 Trifecta Key - Clairiere over Malathaat and Search Results over Nest = $10
If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Nest (9/5).
Trainer Todd Pletcher holds a strong pair when he sends out Nest and Malathaat to top a field of eight set for Saturday’s $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Keeneland.
The younger of the two, Nest, figures to go favored. After running second to Secret Oath in a 14-horse field for the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, the 3-year-old daughter of Curlin hasn't lost to females since.
First, she ran a strong second against the boys in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes before reeling off consecutive romping victories in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), Alabama Stakes (G1), and Beldame Stakes (G2) in her last three.
Also a daughter of Curlin, last year’s 3-year-old filly champion Malathaat comes into the 9-furlong Distaff off an easy score in the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes. That was her third victory at Keeneland without a loss.
Last year, the Shadwell Stable-owned mare fell only a half-length short in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar.
Among the challengers to the Pletcher duo is a strong pair from the Hall of Fame barn of Steve Asmussen.
The classy Clairiere was not able to get the best of her rival Malathaat last season, but this year has actually beaten the champion in two of three attempts.
Society, meanwhile, is a 3-year-old like Nest and brings plenty of speed to the affair. A daughter of Gun Runner, she blitzed her competition wire-to-wire last out in the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx.
This daughter of Curlin has been pretty spectacular in her last three starts. Since a stumbling start and a solid effort to be second against the boys in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, she has treated her own gender badly in consecutive romping wins in the CCA Oaks, Alabama and Beldame.
The competition of the older mares makes the competition on Saturday quite a bit tougher, but I do expect the Todd Pletcher-trained filly to be up to the challenge. With an explosive turn of foot not possessed by her top challengers here, I look for her to make this her race early in the lane.
A big win over the Keeneland track earlier this year is a good sign. You never know for sure until they actually defeat the very best, but I like her chances to prove herself the world’s best female dirt horse on Saturday. She is the top pick.
Like her younger stablemate, this daughter of Curlin is as consistent as they come. Beaten only a half-length in this race last year, and coming off a big win in the Grade 1 Spinster over the track, she rates a strong second choice behind Nest.
As has been true since her debut, she has been extremely solid this year, without being spectacular. Two starts back, she gained a bit of revenge on her rival Clairiere and ran down Search Results late to win the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga. A similar effort could win this.
Having won all three starts at Keeneland, you know she is fond of the track. I like Nest a little bit better, and I believe Clairiere offers better value, but I recognize her as a big threat to get her tenth career win
If you can draw a line through the last, where she never really ran a lick in the Personal Ensign, you have to give this Steve Asmussen trainee a big shot on Saturday. Given that she banged herself up pretty good in the starting gate, I am willing to do that.
Right there in last year’s edition of the Distaff, she looked even better this year before the last race. Three impressive rallying wins, the last two over Malathaat had her rated as the top older female in the land.
Given an honest pace, which seems likely, and a freshening since her troubled last, I expect her to be finishing very well on Saturday. She also offers solid value with all the others to bet. She will be the one I play the most after Nest.
Given a little time between races since a big effort to just miss behind Malathaat in the Personal Ensign, this Chad Brown-trained daughter of Flatter seems to be in the best form of her career, and that is good because this will be a big ask.
She will likely be tasked with going after Society early and then seeing if she can hold off the charge of Nest, Malathaat and Clairiere.
I do like her chances to handle Society when they turn for home, but I see as less than likely that she can hold off the late runners. Having said that, I do expect her to run another good race and to be right there in mid-stretch.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, this speedy daughter of Gun Runner has won 5-of-6 lifetime races and is coming off a career best last time when winning the Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx. She beat Secret Oath that day, but now must face the likes of the four fillies and mare above her.
The defection of Letruska gives her more hope to run free on the front end, but with Search Results just to her inside, I do believe she will have to work early to get the lead into the first turn.
Speed is always dangerous and this filly certainly fits that bill, but in the long run I think the pressure will come and I don’t have confidence that she will be up to the task when pressured by the big girls.
This D. Wayne Lukas-trained filly got off to a flying start to begin her season with three stakes wins which included the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. Unfortunately, while Nest has continued to improve this daughter of Arrogate has regressed.
Having run twelve times within twelve months, and twice against males, her backwards slide probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
She has not been running terribly of late, but just not good enough to really threaten Grade 1 horses. Barring a real bounce-back in form off her last four races, it’s hard to imagine her being an important part of this race in the late stages.
A champion in Europe, this well-bred daughter of Equal Stripes has found some success since coming to America with a pair of graded stakes wins in California. She did not do much running in this race last year, but that was her first race in the U.S. and off a layoff.
She is likely more ready to perform well this time around. This year’s edition might be even tougher, though, as she runs outside of Southern California since her arrival.
Coming off a solid Grade 1 win at Del Mar in her last and given three months off in between races, she is a possibility to compete with this group at attractive odds. Still, it would be a bit of a surprise to see her actually win on Saturday.
A 3-year-old daughter of Nyquist trained by Doug O’Neill, she has only been able to win a maiden and an allowance in eight career starts. She has been second in three stakes races, including last time when she was more than three lengths behind the winner in the Grade 2 Zenyatta.
She was a good looking allowance winner before that sprinting off a layoff, so the freshening seemed to do her some good.
Still, she looks overmatched against this star-studded field and probably can only add some early-pace pressure at best.
Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.
Email: [email protected]
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