Delahoussaye Recalls Memorable Distaffs

Delahoussaye Recalls Memorable Distaffs
Photo: Blood-Horse Library
Hollywood Wildcat, with Delahoussaye in the irons, won the 1993 Breeders' Cup Distaff.

This year's Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) may be shaping up as one of the most competitive fields of the Nov. 1-2 World Championships at Santa Anita Park. But Eddie Delahoussaye remembers a few other Distaffs just as memorable.

The former jockey and Hall of Fame member not only won two of them, he had a spectacular view of perhaps the greatest Breeders' Cup race in history. Delahoussaye piloted Princess Rooney, the very first Distaff winner in 1984, and Hollywood Wildcat, who won the race in 1993. He also rode Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Goodbye Halo to third in 1988, trying valiantly against two behemothsPersonal Ensign and Winning Colors.

"Goodbye Halo was a little bitty thing, maybe 15 hands tops," said Delahoussaye. "She was running against two giants, in many aspects."

Winning Colors cruised along on an easy lead through most of the race, with Delahoussaye strategically placed in second and Personal Ensign well back early.

"I thought at the head of the stretch I might have had a chance," Delahoussaye said. "But they just kept digging."

Winning Colors and jockey Gary Stevens never relented, racing ahead of Goodbye Halo on the rail, while Personal Ensign and jockey Randy Romero ranged up outside of Delahoussaye in a dramatic finish for the ages. Delahoussaye had a rear view of a battle that seemed impossible for Personal Ensign to win. But somehow she managed.

"I was watching Randy and Gary both ride, and I'm in the middle of them," Delahoussaye said. "I was going steady, but I wasn't gaining on them. I thought Winning Colors was going to hold on, but Personal Ensign just had so much heart."

So did Goodbye Halo, who finished only a half-length back in third.

Delahoussaye's two Distaff victories came for trainer Neil Drysdale, the first a seven-length tour-de-force by Princess Rooney and the second a narrow nose by Hollywood Wildcat over Paseana.

"The first time I worked Princess Rooney," Delahoussaye said, "I asked Neil, 'Who is this? Wow!' And she just got better and better."

That year the Distaff was the same 1 1/4-mile distance as the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). Princess Rooney clocked it in 2:02 2/5, faster than Wild Again's Classic time of 2:03 2/5.

"The way she ran that day, she would have given the boys a run for their money in the Classic," Delahoussaye said. "She was something special."

Nine years later, Delahoussaye and Drysdale teamed up again with Hollywood Wildcat. That year Delahoussaye had to take off a stakes winner in order to ride Hollywood Wildcat.

"I rode for Neil for 19 years, and I told him, 'I hate to get off that winner.' He said, 'Let me tell you, this filly can run'. "

Hollywood Wildcat won the Hollywood Oaks (gr. I), two stakes at Del Mar, and one at Oak Tree. In the Distaff, she prompted Supah Gem's pace, grabbed the lead in the stretch, and repulsed Paseana's furious close.

"I even threw away my whip," Delahoussaye said, laughing.

When Delahoussaye tried to twirl his whip, he dropped it. He knew Chris McCarron was on Paseana, so he later teased McCarron by telling him that he threw the whip away on purpose.

"To tell you the truth, I lost my composure," Delahoussaye said. "I went to scraping and screaming to keep her mind on running. It probably wouldn't have made any difference if I had the whip or not because she was giving me all she had. In all the other races I won with her, I hardly hit her anyway."

Delahoussaye ultimately won seven Breeders' Cup races, including the 1992 Classic on A.P. Indy, also for Drysdale.

As for this year's Distaff, Delahoussaye agrees that it will be tough to pick a winner.

"It's going to be a great race and a good betting race," he said. "I'm leaning toward Princess of Sylmar because of the way she won the Beldame (gr. I), beating Royal Delta. But Royal Delta's a great racehorse also. And Beholder likes that racetrack and is a hard tryer."

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