For the first time in years, the Distaff becomes its own centerpiece. For all of those years it, along with the sprint, has often been the most competitive event of the day. Today, in the newly thought out Ladies Day, it has been re-coined the Ladies' Classic, which is the only stupid aspect of this.
On a day for classic performances, many believe this is going to be the crowning of a huge year for Zenyatta. She will go off as the heaviest favorite of the day, but I find flaws in this nearly flawless creature, that force me to go against the grain. Perhaps I simply want to beat a big favorite, which I am prone to, but there is a chance that the hype is too big and the opposition too poorly regarded.
I have two reasons to bet against this filly.
1.) Her worst race was at this distance. She won with a speed figure 4.5 lengths slower than her races at 8.5 furlongs. Some say it was the heat that got to her, but I think it was an overconfident jockey. Mike Smith is often overly confident, and that could be her undoing. Smith could be overconfident on a filly that could come from anywhere, like Azeri, but not here. This filly is a one-run specialist with a stride that needs to build on its own momentum. If he moves too early again, she will be prone to reason #2:
2.) Carriage Trail. This filly is going to be difficult to beat. She is trained by a Breeders' Cup master, Shug McGaughey, and is coming off a breakout race in the Spinster. The last two times McGaughey won this race were with Spinster runners: Inside Information and Pleasant Home. If he has her right, she can get the jump on Zenyatta and dare her to catch her. She is also a more maneuverable filly than the big favorite, which makes her even more dangerous.
The three big "X Factors" in this race are the one-two finishers from last year, Champion Ginger Punch and Hystericalady, along with the (destined to be highly under-bet) Santa Teresita. The latter is coming into her second race off a layoff, while also giving Zenyatta all she could handle in the Milady back in May. She regains Michael Baze, the last rider to win on her, and loves the surface. Ginger Punch likes the surface but is coming off two tough races. She seems to have lost at least a length, and is the one filly that Frankel has been surprisingly quiet about. My feeling here is that Stronach wanted to run and Frankel figured she would at least give a respectable showing in her career bow. Lastly, my favorite filly in the race is Hysteralady. On regular dirt, she is my pick in this race. On synthetics, she is merely #3. She will be tough, she will give them all she can handle, and then she will be overpowered by two well-adapted synthetic-loving fillies.
Of the two Godolphin fillies, I think Music Note will be tougher, despite going off at higher odds. She's out of a Sadler's Wells mare and should like the extra cushion. But, both of these fillies are running into a field and circumstances that are beyond their prowess. Bear Now is in way over her head. On a dirt course, she is in the top five, but that is null and void.
1. (5) Carriage Trail 6-1
2. (1) Zenyatta 4-5
3. (2) Hystericalady 10-1
4. (6) Ginger Punch 5-1
5. (7) Santa Teresita 15-1