Distaff Division: Is It Only Unique Bella vs Abel Tasman?

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D.S. Williamson

June 24th, 2018

Now that the Triple Crown is over, it's time to turn our attention to the other divisions in horse racing.  The Handicap Division is an absolute mess. Who knows if the Bob Baffert trained West Coast returns to his previous glory days?

In the Distaff Division, things are clearer.  The Top 2 horses in the Distaff Division are, no doubt, Unique Bella and Abel Tasman. But, are those the only two distaffers worth mentioning? Could there possibly be a distaffer out there, or a 3-year-old filly, that could upset both Unique Bella and Abel Tasman?

Distaff Division:  Is it Only Unique Bella vs Abel Tasman?

First, I dig deeper into a question about Unique Bell and a question about Abel Tasman. Then, I'll offer a couple of names of horses that could challenge the Top 2 for distaffer supremacy.

Does Unique Bella Have Distance Limitations?

Unique Bella looked great winning the Beholder Mile. However, the Beholder Mile is at a mile. It's not any longer than that. Sure, Unique Bella's won at 1 1/16 miles. But, she's never raced further than 1 1/16 miles. Does that mean Unique Bella has distance limitations?

She shouldn't. Sired by Tapit and from an Unbridled's Song mare, Unique Bella is as regally bred as any horse on the planet. Tapit, North America's leading sire, has already produced two Belmont Stakes winners. The question about her distance limitations remain, though. The reason is because if she doesn't have distance limitations why hasn't trainer Jerry Hollendorfer run Unique Bella in a 1 1/8 mile race?

Hollendorfer didn't even run her in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. He chose the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint instead.

How Good Was Abel Tasman's Ogden Phipps Win?

Winning is always better than losing, and Abel Tasman won the Ogden Phipps by 7 1/2 lengths. She didn't beat any horse of note, though. Ivy Bell finished second while Unbridled Mo finished third. How good was Abel Tasman's Ogden Phipps win?

The reason I ask that question is because before the Ogden Phipps victory, where she got an easy lead, she had bombed in the Grade 1 La Troienne on Kentucky Derby Day. There was seemingly no reason for the lackluster performance. Not only that, but the Ogden Phipps was a one turn 1 1/16 mile race while the La Troienne was a 1 1/16 mile race around two turns.

Could it be that the Ogden Phipps set up perfectly for her? Maybe.

Selcourt Might be the Horse to Beat Unique Bella and Abel Tasman

Selcourt could be the horse that beats both Unique Bella and Abel Tasman. Before a slight setback, she had dominated west coast racing, winning 3 straight races. The one big knock against the John Sadler trainee is that she hasn't yet run a route of ground. Because her sire is Tiz Wonderful and her grandsire is Tiznow, she should have no trouble handling 1 1/8 miles.  John might not run her in the BC Distaff, though. If I had to guess, he'll try and get her ready for the BC Filly and Mare Sprint.

Monomy Girl Could Be the One That Upsets Both Unique Bella and Abel Tasman

One horse that most definitely will run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff if she doesn't get injured is Monomy Girl. The Kentucky Oaks winner has won races over both dirt and turf. She's won at 1 mile, a one turn mile, and all the way up to 1 1/8 miles.  She just might be an incredibly special race horse. No matter what's been thrown at her, Monomy Girl has responded.

Also, the 2018 Breeders' Cup takes place at Churchill Downs this year. 4 of Monomy Girl's 8 wins have come under the Twin Spires. Her trainer, Brad Cox, is one of the top trainers at Churchill Downs. She'll have a home field advantage in this year's BC Distaff.

In year's past, we've had the pleasure of watching Songbird, Beholder, and Zenyatta dominate the distaff division. This year, Unique Bella and Abel Tasman appears to be better than the rest. But, both Selcourt and Monomy Girl could surprise.

We'll see if another distaffer makes her mark before now and the Breeders' Cup.