This race is all about Midnight Bisou, who is still very much in the running for Horse of the Year honors. The undefeated filly drew post 11 for this year’s running after finishing third in the event last season. The $2,000,000 Longines Distaff is set for race 10 on Saturday, November 2, at Santa Anita Park and will be contested at 1 1/8 miles.
The full field from the rail out includes:
#1 Paradise Woods – One entry who won’t have any problems with racing at Santa Anita Park is Paradise Woods, who is coming off of a victory over the local track last time out in the Zenyatta Stakes (G2). All five of her career wins have come here, including graded stakes victories in the Zenyatta Stakes (in both 2019 and 2017), the Santa Margarita Stakes (G2), and the Santa Anita Oaks (G1). She changed hands during the winter to trainer John Shirreffs with the idea that he could teach her to relax early in her races. That goal seems to have been achieved, and she has proven to be ultra-dangerous when she shows up with her top effort.
#2 Ollie’s Candy – After an extended string of races on the turf, this filly switched back to the dirt with solid success. Two races back, she captured the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar, the biggest win of her career. Last time out, she was a solid third in the Zenyatta Stakes (G2) over this track.
#3 Street Band – The hottest 3-year-old coming into the event is Street Band, who won the Cotillion Stakes (G1) at Parx last time out over the highly-regarded Guarana by 2 1/4 lengths. The win, her fourth this season, followed similar triumphs in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) at Fair Grounds and the Indiana Oaks (G3) at Indiana Grand.
#4 Midnight Bisou – This filly has been flawless this season, winning all seven starts. Last year, she finished her campaign with a strong third in the Distaff behind Monomoy Girl, the 3-year-old champion filly. As it turns out, Midnight Bisou was just getting warmed up. After winning the Houston Ladies Classic Stakes (G3) and the Azeri Stakes (G2) to start 2019, she rattled off back-to-back Grade 1 scores in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park and the Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park. After taking the Molly Pitcher Stakes (G3) at Monmouth Park, Midnight Bisou won what might be the race of the year when she battled with Elate the length of the stretch and just edged clear by a nose in the Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. In her final prep for this event, she was once again victorious, taking the Beldame Stakes (G2) by 3 1/4 lengths.
#5 Dunbar Road – The Chad Brown-trained Dunbar Road finished a close third in the Spinster Stakes (G1) last time out against older company after winning the Alabama Stakes (G1) and the Mother Goose Stakes (G2) over her fellow 3-year-old fillies. Brown has kept her in longer races throughout her young career, which suggests that she loves going two turns. She has yet to finish off the board in six starts.
#6 Wow Cat – It has been over a year since she last saw the winner’s circle, a trend that her connections would like to buck in this spot. She was second in last year’s Distaff while gaining ground on Monomoy Girl in the stretch. This year, she has finished second twice in big races, but she proved to be no match for Midnight Bisou in the Beldame Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park last time out.
#7 Secret Spice – She may only have one win in five starts this year, but she hit the board each time. She became a Grade 1 winner this March at Santa Anita after taking home the Beholder Mile against several quality opponents. Following that win, she has finished second in three straight starts, including the Zenyatta Stakes (G2) last time out.
#8 La Force – This filly is no stranger to big races in California, as she basically shows up to run in every major stakes event. This will be her second shot at the Distaff after finishing eighth in this race a year ago. In five starts this season, she has one win, the local Santa Margarita Stakes (G2) in April. Most recently, she was fourth in the Zenyatta Stakes (G2), the local prep race for this event.
#9 Serengeti Empress – When talking about this year’s top 3-year-old fillies, it is impossible not to mention the Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner. She has been solid all year, despite not picking up a victory since that day. She ran too well to lose in both the Acorn Stakes (G1) and the Test Stakes (G1), while a tough inside trip cost her all chance in the Cotillion Stakes (G1). The daughter of Alternation will be going 1 1/8 miles for the first time since winning the Kentucky Oaks.
#10 Mo See Cal – We’ll see if she can make her first graded stakes start a winning one in this ultra-difficult spot. She has just a single victory this season, which came last time out in a local allowance/optional claiming event. Three of her five lifetime victories have come when racing over this track, which could be her biggest advantage.
#11 Blue Prize – She was fourth in the Distaff last season, just behind Midnight Bisou. After a few on-the-board finishes to start 2019, Blue Prize came alive in her last two starts. She was triumphant in the Summer Colony Stakes by a nose over Vexatious at Saratoga, then last time out, she was able to capture the Spinster Stakes (G1) for the second straight year at Keeneland, this time beating tough competition like Elate and Dunbar Road.
With a win here, Midnight Bisou will stamp her strong case for Horse of the Year. If she wins, and Bricks and Mortar loses one race later on the card, then she becomes the favorite to win the award. She will likely be the lowest price of this year’s Breeders’ Cup, which does not make her appealing to bet, but this is a can’t-miss race for any horse racing fan.