Reversing her runner-up finish in last year's race, Stud Santa Ines's 4-year-old Argentina-bred filly Kiriaki prevailed May 1 by a head over Hispanidad in a furious stretch drive to win the 1 1/4 mile Gran Premio Criadores (G1) at Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Kiriaki's victory earned her the first automatic starting position into this year's $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1).
The Gran Premio Criadores is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge, an international series of 81 stakes races whose winners receive free berths and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships. This year the Breeders' Cup will be held at the Del Mar racetrack near San Diego, Calif., for the first time Nov. 3-4.
The Breeders' Cup will pay the entry fees for the connections of Kiriaki to start in the Distaff, which will be run at 1 1/8 miles, and also provide a $40,000 travel allowance to the World Championships because the filly is based outside of North America. The Challenge winner must be nominated to the Breeders' Cup program by the Championships' pre-entry deadline of Oct. 23 to receive the rewards.
Trained by Juan Udaondo and ridden by Gustavo Calvente, Kiriaki, the 5-2 favorite in an eight-horse field of fillies and mares, wore down the 3-year-old Argentina-bred Hispanidad (part of 4.7-1 entry with Kononkop) in the final yards to prevail. Kiriaki, a bay daughter of Catcher in the Rye out of Kiria, by Interprete, completed the course on a fast track in 2:00.46. Magica Stripes finished third, and was followed in order by Kononkop, Silver Look, Mantera Rye, Adora Nistel, and Sing in Holiday.
Kiriaki was bred by Stud Clausan, the same farm that bred Invasor, the 2006 Breeders' Cup Classic winner and North American Horse of the Year.
One year ago, Kiarki was defeated in the last stride by Corona Del Inca in 2016 Gran Premio Criadores as the 3-4 favorite.
She came back strongly seven weeks later to capture her first group 1, taking the 1 1/4-mile Gran Premio Estrellas on dirt at Palermo by four lengths. Kiriaki closed out 2016 finishing second by 1 1/2 lengths to Dona Bruja in the Premio Copa de Plata (G1) on turf at San Isidro.
This year Kiriaki delivered two solid performances before the Gran Premio Criadores. She finished second to Furia Azteca in the 1 1/4-mile Arturo R. y Arturo Bullrich (G2) March 12 at Palermo, and then scored a 1 1/2-length victory in the Gran Premio Gilberto Lerna (G1) at 1 3/8 miles on turf April 1 at Palermo.