If looks have anything to do with the outcome, sophomore Society Selection has an outstanding chance to get Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens his first win in a Breeders' Cup race Saturday in the $2-million Breeders' Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel (gr. I).
The bay filly, listed as the 4-1 second choice on the morning line, looked good cooling out after galloping 1 ½ miles Friday morning at Lone Star Park.
Irving and Marjorie Cowan's homebred Society Selection, by Cornonado's Quest, out of the Dixieland Band
mare Love That Jazz holds a strong hand in the Distaff off her last effort, a solid second-place finish behind Sightseek in the nine-furlong Beldame Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. Sightseek was retired following the win and will not contest the Breeders' Cup. The third-place finisher, Storm Flag Flying, was made the 9-2 third choice on the morning line for the Distaff.
Its key Society Selection has had a brief freshening and a race against older horses under her belt. Of the six other 3-year-olds to win the Distaff, all but one had races against older horses to their credit. Dance Smartly was the only one to break the mold, but she had raced four straight times against males prior to the 1991 Distaff.
Two other 3-year-olds in the field, favorite Ashado and Stellar Jayne, haven't had the benefit of a race against older horses heading into the Distaff. Hollywood Story has, with a closing third-place finish in the American Oaks (gr. IT) on July 3, her last start.
Prior to her run in the Beldame, Society Selection had back-to-back wins in the Test and Alabama Stakes (both gr. I) at Saratoga. She then got a several week break -- from the Aug. 21 Alabama--to the Oct. 9 Beldame.
"The funny thing about horses is that they can tail off even without racing," Jerkens said from Barn B2 at Lone Star Park Friday morning. "You give them time off and they might tail off while they're off. They might be good during the summer and not in the fall."
Society Selection was good in the fall, as witnessed by her Beldame, where she cut in to Sightseek's lead in the Belmont stretch, beating Storm Flag Flying by 1 ¼ lengths.
"Sometimes they'll give more when they're fresh," Jerkens said. "But that can hurt them in the long run. It's a ticklish situation. Everybody had their opinion. I haven't won one of these big races, so maybe I should keep my mouth shut."
Jerkens has had six Breeders' Cup starters and none have even hit the board. Society Selection ran 10th in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) after a poor start, then being steadied going into a crowded first turn. Jerkens trained Sky Beauty, who disappointed twice in the Distaff with a fifth-place finish in 1993 and a ninth-place finish the following year as the second choice.
The winner in 1993 was Hollywood Wildcat, a homebred for the Cowans. The Cowans have more than successful in the Breeders' Cup, winning the Mile (gr. I) in 2000 and ran second with Love That Jazz in the 1996 Juvenile Fillies.
"We've been pretty fortunate in the Breeders' Cup," said Irv Cowan, who was visiting Lone Star Park for the first time Friday morning. "We'd love to win another Distaff.
"We got a favorable draw," he said of Society Selection's post 4. "The three fillies to her inside all have speed. All we have to do is not go with the speed. There's going to be a lot of pace in the race. Society Selection has speed, but I can't expect her to carry it a mile and an eighth. I want her to have enough in the tank for her to make her patented late move."
That late move carried her from 10 of 12 in the seven-furlong Test Stakes to a 6 ½-length win. She was seven lengths off the pace after the opening half-mile. She was closer to the pace in the 10-furlong Alabama and Beldame.
Society Selection has a 5-3-1 slate from 11 career starts and has earned $1,256,700. Her highest Beyer Speed Figure is the 107 earned in the Alabama which is the second-highest Beyer earned by any entrant in the field. Island Fashion put up a 111 twice, in the seven-furlong La Brea Stakes (gr. I) on Dec. 27, 2003, and again in a second-place finish in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) on March 6.