Of all the upcoming Breeders’ Cup races, the one that promises to outshine them all in terms of pure competitiveness is the Distaff...sorry, Ladies’ Classic (once again, I must protest what a dim-witted move it was to change this race’s name).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited as anyone to see Zenyatta in the Classic, but, honestly, if the best male handicap horses are Blame, Richard’s Kid, and Quality Road—and no dominating 3-year-old (and I include Lookin At Lucky in that criticism particularly after taking the easy route by running in the G2 Indiana Derby this past weekend)—well, I’m just not that impressed. Honestly, barring a muddy track (god forbid!), Zenyatta looks to be the closest thing possible to a “sure thing”—although Goldikova in the Mile is pretty damn close too.
On the Distaff side, though, now there is some real competition, with a capital “C.” Life at Ten, Unrivaled Belle, and Persistently (who ran 1-2-3 in the G1 Beldame) have each enjoyed success this year vs. Rachel Alexandra and against one another, while Malibu Prayer and Devil May Care could certainly pull off an upset given the right conditions. However, it’s the 3-year-old fillies that are just dynamic! Switch gave Zenyatta a hell of a race in the G1 Lady’s Secret, while Blind Luck and Havre de Grace have engaged in a battle royale in all three of their recent meetings, with Blind Luck winning the 8.5 furlong G2 Delaware Oaks (over a sloppy track) by a nose and the 10 furlong G1 Alabama by a neck, while Havre de Grace (with a 10 pound weight advantage) gamely held off Blind Luck—by a neck—in the 8.5 furlong G2 Cotillion.
The wild card element that no one can predict—the race will be run under lights, and, frankly, how each horse reacts to those conditions is unknown.
Edited to add: as one commenter rightly noted, Blind Luck's win in last December's Hollywood Starlet did, in fact, take place under the lights at Hollywood Park, so maybe how she will handle Churchill's lights isn't quite such as mystery. I stand corrected :-)