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A fellow happened upon trainer Leonard Powell schooling horses one morning in the Del Mar paddock a week or so back.
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“Thought you’d put your good mare Neige Blanche in the Yellow Ribbon this weekend,” that fellow said, referencing the Grade II, $250,000 filly/mare headliner run at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. After all, Powell’s charge was just coming off a game score for the second year in a row in the Possibly Perfect Stakes on the grass at Santa Anita and would be a serious contender in the Yellow Ribbon.
“No, I’m saving her for the CTT & TOC Stakes next week,” the Frenchman said. “She’ll like that distance much better.”
So, here comes the 26th edition of the CTT & TOC Friday and you’ll see that the distance is 11 furlongs on grass, a demanding marathon that requires lots of stamina. Neige Blanche, a 6-year-old daughter of the Irish stallion Anodin, has been made the 5/2 morning line favorite for the $100,000 stakes and a check of her PPs tells you why her conditioner chose to wait.
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The French-bred mare, owned by De Seroux, Naify or Powell, has seven wins in her last 12 starts, every one of them at 10 furlongs or farther. In fact, she won this very race in 2021, one of 10 victories on her ledger.
She’s managed to bank more than $600,000 running long and why, oh, why would a man want to do anything else with her. She’ll have Diego Herrera in the saddle Friday and her eight opponents better tie their running shoes on tight.
Sister Otoole, also a 6-year-old, though she by the Irish stud Amira’s Prince, won this very race last August, closing stoutly to get up by half a length. She’s got three wins and $335,470 in earnings racing out of the barn of eastern-based Graham Motion.
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