From Bob Ehalt
The news that Untapable won’t be operating in the Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff because of a temperature affected that the $2 million race in many of ways.
Breeders’ Cup 2015For starters, it removed from the mix the defending champ and among the highest threats in this year’s edition at Keeneland Race Course.
It may make life easier on the front end for a speedster such as wedding favours, the 4-1 favorite in a controversial field.
Additionally, it means Sheer Drama will break from post 13 instead of 14.
She will still be breaking from a place where she could be caught wide on the first turn, and she still faces the possibility of having to pay more ground than her competitors that attracted the very first couple of articles.
But, hey, what’s it they say about little favors? At least she does not have the worst place in a field of 14 for Friday’s nationally televised race around the NBC Sports Network (5:35 p.m.).
Only the next-to-worst post.
“It’s what it is,” said trainer David Fawkes, that wasn’t about to waive a flag and shout”no mas” after the”luck of the draw” worked against his 5-year-old mare.
In Sheer Drama, Fawkes has a horse at career-best form. A winner of merely one of six begins in 2014, she came of age at five when she started her period at Gulfstream Park in January. After winning a Sunshine Millions bets and finishing second at the Grade 3 Rampart, she submitted her first graded stakes win when she romped by 6 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Royal Delta.
A pair of second in graded stakes at Churchill Downs followed, and then she finally broke through with back-to-back Grade 1 wins at the Delaware Handicap and the Personal Ensign at Saratoga in her last two starts. Unknown on a national point one year ago at the time, she’s now the 9-2 second choice in the morning line in the nation’s highest race for older fillies and mares.
She hasn’t raced in nine weeks since her triumph at the Aug. 29 Personal Ensign, but the way she has been coaching since then gives Fawkes enough assurance to believe she can win from any post.
“I was very disappointed in her big brother’s draw when he (Big Drama) drew the 1 post in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at 2010, and he won anyway,” Fawkes said. “She’s got good tactical speed and I’ve got a fantastic jockey (Joe Bravo). I think we’ll be OK. She’s fast to get out of the gate, and we won’t need to hang out in there too . The draw is a downside. I believe everything else is going to be nice.”
Godolphin Racing’s Wedding Toast, the 4-1 favorite, is also coming to the mile and an eighth Distaff the right manner as she posted a 5-length success over Untapable in the Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park on June 6 and then tuned up to the Breeders’ Cup with a simple 2 3/4-length winner over Curalina in the Grade 1 Beldame on Sept. 26.
A front-running winner in both the Phipps and Beldame, Wedding Toast drew post seven and it’d be no surprise if jockey Jose Lezcano — remember him with Frosted from the Travers? — attempts to seize control of the BC Distaff.
“She couldn’t be doing better,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “She’s doing fabulous… She’s doing so well, we think she is the one to beat.”
Both favorites need to be at their best at a highly talented field that includes some familiar faces.
Got Lucky (6-1) was next to Sheer Drama at the Personal Ensign and then rallied strongly in the final furlong to take Keeneland’s Grade 1 Spinster with a neck over Untapable and Yahilwa (20-1) in a tight, three-horse finish, gaining valuable experience within the track. Stopchargingmaria (5-1) was in the Personal Ensign but before which won the Grade 3 Shuvee over Untapable and was second at the Grade 1 Madison Stakes this past spring at Keeneland.
There is also some gifted 3-year-olds, like I’m a Chatterbox (8-1), Curalina (12-1) and Stellar Wind (12-1), that will derive some optimism from Untapable’s success as a 3-year-old in last season’s BC Distaff.
They can also let out a sigh of relief they don’t have article 13.