Quick, name the five best races in the history of the Breeders' Cup. Sure it's subjective, but every list would include the 1988 Distaff (gr. I), which was contested over a muddy Churchill Downs strip.
Pull out the tape and watch the race again. And again. You still swear Winning Colors is going to win. But she doesn't. Personal Ensign just keeps coming, her breathtaking last-gasp effort under Randy Romero sending her out an unbeaten champion.
The first major American Thoroughbred to retire undefeated in 80 years. It is goose bumps; it is chills; it is one for the ages.
The chart says "nose." It could have said "heart."
Though she has made only three starts, Long John Silver's Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) favorite Storm Flag Flying has also never tasted defeat. Some of her winning attitude must surely come from her second dam, the Private Account mare Personal Ensign.
Of course, Personal Ensign is not the only Breeders' Cup winner in the female family of Storm Flag Flying. Her dam is the Easy Goer mare My Flag, who won the 1995 Juvenile Fillies at Belmont Park.
Personal Ensign, My Flag, and Storm Flag Flying have something else in common--each was bred and raced by the Phipps family and trained by Shug McGaughey.
Storm Flag Flying, by Storm Cat, has looked quite impressive in her three starts, enough so to make her the expected shortest-priced favorite on the eight-race Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships card Oct. 26 at Arlington Park.
After breaking her maiden first time out at Saratoga going six furlongs, Storm Flag Flying showed the racing world she is to be reckoned with, taking Belmont's mile Matron Stakes (gr. I) by a widening 123/4 lengths. Sent off 3-5 in the Oct. 5 Frizette Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont, she won by an easy two lengths.
If there is a question mark, it is that Storm Flag Flying has never been around two turns. That is of even more concern this year, with the two juvenile races being run at nine furlongs for the first time.
The second choice in the Juvenile Fillies figures to be Composure, whose trainer, like McGaughey, has previously won the race. Bob Baffert sent out Silverbulletday to take the 1998 edition.
Composure, from the first crop by Touch Gold, took a couple of races to get her act together, but in her last two starts, has looked impressive. She broke her maiden going six furlongs at Del Mar on Sept. 7, then fired back in the Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. II) at 11/16 miles and looked good winning by three lengths.
Baffert will have another good shot in the race with Santa Catarina, who ran second in the Frizette after just missing in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I). Both Composure and Santa Catarina race for Bob and Beverly Lewis.
Oak Leaf runner-up Buffythecenterfold, named for Playboy centerfold Buffy Tyler, could cause the most rubber-necking in the Breeders' Cup paddock since Hugh Hefner ran in the 1999 Juvenile (gr. I). That is if Tyler shows and brings along some of her friends, as the human Hefner did.
Two fillies will run off only two weeks of rest, Calder star Ivanavinalot and Astarita Stakes (gr. II) winner Humorous Lady. Aidan O'Brien, who won last year's Juvenile, sends out Reach for the Moon, a daughter of Pulpit who broke her maiden in her first start in Ireland, then ran third in the Meon Valley Stud Fillies' Mile (Eng-I).