UPDATE: As of October 29, 2015, Beholder scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
As discussed in a previous article, there is a long and friendly history between horses coming out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and going on to do well in the Kentucky Oaks.
But what about the reverse? How well do Kentucky Oaks winners/runners do in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff later in their sophomore seasons and beyond?
The very first Distaff proved quite popular with winners, and runners, from previous runnings of the Kentucky Oaks.
In 1983, Princess Rooney wired the Kentucky Oaks and concluded her sophomore season with a runner-up effort in December sprinting at Meadowlands. One year later, the gray miss would show up at Hollywood Park for the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and romp home a seven-length scorer. Behind her that day in sixth was that year’s winner of the Kentucky Oaks, Lucky Lucky Lucky.
Fran’s Valentine, the disqualified winner of the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, triumphed in the 1985 Oaks and would go on to try the Distaff, finishing fifth. She did much better in that latter race 12 months later when second to eventual 1986 Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Lady’s Secret. Classy Cathy, fourth in the ’86 Oaks, filled the same spot in that year’s Distaff.
In 1988, a momentous occasion occurred for the first and only time as both the Oaks winner and Derby scorer faced off in the Distaff.
Goodbye Halo easily captured the Kentucky Oaks while Winning Colors eked out a close neck decision in the Run for the Roses.
The duo met up in the Distaff later in the fall but neither could secure the victory, with Winning Colors missing by just a nose on the wire. Goodbye Halo wasn’t far back either, only a half-length behind in third.
Both showed up in 1989 for another shot at Distaff glory, but finished out of the top four while that season’s Oaks third-placer, Open Mind, took third in the Breeders’ Cup race. Colonial Waters was fourth in the 1988 Oaks and actually beat out Winning Colors in the ’89 Distaff before returning a year later to be best-of-the-rest behind Bayakoa in the 1990 Distaff.
The next couple of years didn’t favor Oaks runners, but Dispute parlayed a win in 1993 Run for the Lilies into a fourth-placing in the Distaff. The 1995 Distaff saw the previous year’s Oaks runner-up, Lakeway, take third, but one year later Oaks fifth-placer and Belmont S. (G1) third My Flag finished fourth in the 1996 Distaff.
Sharp Cat, the disqualified third-place runner in the 1997 Oaks, went on to take second in that season’s Distaff while Escena, second in the 1996 Oaks, finished behind in third. Escena returned in 1998 to just hold by a nose over that year’s Oaks second, Banshee Breeze, with the Oaks winner, Keeper Hill, another five lengths back in third. Tomisue’s Delight, runner-up in the 1997 Oaks, filled out the Oaks superfecta in the ‘98 Distaff.
Champion Silverbulletday, clearly the best in the 1999 Kentucky Oaks, faded as the favorite later that fall in the Distaff, but ’98 Oaks second Banshee Breeze and Keeper Hill kept the fire burning when second and fourth, respectively.
Spain represented the Oaks in both the 2000-2001 runnings of the Distaff. The bay mare finished seventh in the 2000 Oaks before upsetting that season’s Distaff at 55-1, and was second by only a head a year later. Flute, the 2001 Oaks winner, finished seventh as the even-money favorite in the 2001 Distaff.
The next four years were particularly kind to Oaks runners in the Distaff. Farda Amiga captured the 2002 Oaks before going on to secure second in the Distaff; 2003 Oaks fourth Elloluv filled the runner-up spot later that fall at the Breeders’ Cup; and Ashado proved best in both the 2004 Oaks and Distaff before returning in 2005 to be third.
2006 Oaks winner Lemons Forever finished fifth in that season’s Distaff, but one year later Octave, the 2007 Oaks second, got the favorable trend back on track when managing a third-placing in the Breeders’ Cup. Blind Luck rallied to be second in the 2010 Distaff, just a few months after a close score in the Oaks.
Now we come to the 2013-2014 runnings of the Distaff. Two years ago Beholder suffered a tough beat in the Oaks before going on to dominate the Distaff. Last season, Untapable romped in both races after Beholder was forced to skip a title defense run due to fever.
And so it continues into 2015. Though a few years have popped up – 1987, 1994, 2008, 2009 to be exact – when no runner from the Oaks appeared in the Distaff, those are few and usually far between.
This year’s Distaff is following the trend though, with Untapable returning to try for a second Distaff win. Beholder, on the other hand, is pointing for an entirely different Breeders’ Cup race, as she’s expected to line up against the boys in the Classic one day later.
Expected to join Untapable in the Distaff are this year’s respective Oaks third- and fourth-placers, I’m a Chatterbox and Stellar Wind, as well as the 2014 Oaks seventh-placer, Got Lucky.
If past history is any measure, at least one of those runners is destined for the Distaff superfecta.