It’s not surprising a Todd Pletcher-trained filly was made the favorite for the Oct. 27 Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I), it’s just a little surprising which one. Melnyk Racing Stables’ Indian Vale, second in the Sept. 30 Beldame Stakes (gr. I), was made the 3-1 choice by Monmouth Park’s Brad Thomas.
Indian Vale, who broke her maiden at Monmouth in July 2005, will break from post 10 and face 11 rivals in the Distaff including fellow stablemates Octave and Beldame winner Unbridled Belle. Team Valor’s Unbridled Belle, who drew post 11, was made the 9-2 third choice.
Earlier in the year, Unbridled Belle won the $1-million Delaware Handicap (gr. II).
“I was a little surprised Indian Vale was made the favorite,” Pletcher said after the draw. “I hope he’s right.”
Much like the Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) that is loaded with top 3-year-olds, the Distaff is laden with talented sophomores as well. Bear Now, Gazelle (gr. I) winner Lear’s Princess, Alabama (gr. I) winner Lady Joanne, and Mother Goose and CCA Oaks (both gr. I) winner Octave are all 3-year-olds seeking the Distaff’s brass ring.
Lady Joanne, bred and owned by Bentley Smith, was a sharp second, beaten a half-length, in the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland Oct. 7.
“How about that field?” trainer Carl Nafzger said when asked about the Distaff lineup. “I looked at it and just threw up my hands and said, ‘Let’s see what happens’ because it is a very tough race."
“She worked 1:01 and change (Oct. 22) at Churchill and she’ll be in here (Oct. 24),” Nafzger said of the daughter of Orientate. “She’s with (assistant) Ian Wilkes and she’s doing really good.”
Lady Joanne is 6-1 on the morning line, as is Lear’s Princess. Octave was made 10-1, and Bear Now is a 15-1 proposition.