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Homeracing

Kilroy previews 2022 Breeders' Cup Distaff contenders

Profile Picture: Kevin Kilroy

October 13th, 2022

What's in store for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1)? Pre-entries won't be announced until Oct. 26, but the likely runners are fierce.

A couple of contenders who just missed in last year’s Distaff will return to finish what they started. Add to that a filly who took on the males in the 2022 Triple Crown, finishing second in the Belmont (G1). The last three winners of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) are all possible. A dangerous Chad Brown filly returning from a long layoff is in the mix. Add to that a Grade 1-winning, Steve Asmussen-trained Gun Runner filly peaking at the right time, and we have the makings of one of the best top-to-bottom fields ever to line up in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. 

Let’s look over some main contenders. 

Nest

Second to Secret Oaks in the Kentucky Oaks and to stablemate Mo Donegal in the Belmont, Nest has put herself in the conversation for this year's best three-year-old, male or female, by virtue of three consecutive powerful wins in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1), Alabama (G1), and Beldame (G1).

Blessed with the ability to crush her competition’s spirit, Nest has also overcome difficulty, stumbling to an awkward start in the Alabama before winning geared down by 4 1/4 lengths. Todd Pletcher’s filly most recently defeated elders in the Beldame, registering a 107 Brisnet Speed rating cruising to a 9 3/4-length decision, and Nest owns the top Prime Power and Class ratings in the Distaff field.

Her last three have come by a combined total 26 lengths, and while her stats are certainly impressive, nothing tells Nest's story better than watching how quickly she extends her lead in the stretch. 

The one question hanging over her head: how will she handle deeper competition in the Distaff? Nest will have her hands full from go to woe. 

Malathaat

She can press, she can stalk, she can close - she’s Malathaat, the 2021 Kentucky Oaks winner who has never finished out of the money in 13 races and enters the Distaff on a roll. Yes, she beat no one special last out in the Spinster (G1), but Malathaat showed focus in the stretch to extend her lead to 5 1/4 lengths on the wire, her largest margin of victory since winning the 2020 Tempted S. in her second career outing.

Prior to the Spinster, she turned the tables on Clairiere in the Personal Ensign (G1), and while there is an asterisk on that one (see Clairiere below), Malathaat smartly snapped a two-race losing streak that afternoon. 

Losing by just a head to Clairiere in the Ogden Phipps (G1), Pletcher decided to equip his four-year-old star with blinkers. Why? Malathaat didn't appear to be finishing off her rivals late, and the big upside to the equipment move is that Malathaat is now being kept to task. She's eligible to find the extra half-length she failed to muster when rallying to be a close third in the 2021 Distaff at Del Mar. 

Search Results

Yet another formful filly who has never finished out of the money, Search Results runs well every time, but often gets the short end of the stick in terms of pace set-up. Someone had to press Letruska in the Personal Ensign and the Ogden Phipps, and Search Results wound up settling for minor award both times.

Letruska will bypass the 2022 Distaff, but there is other speed present (Society). And Search Results has never been able to get the best of both Malathaat and Clairiere.

Chad Brown’s six-time winner will likely be vying for the same trip as Nest, which hurts her chances, but Search Results' fast workouts in advance of the Distaff tell the story that she might be on the verge of a career-best performance. Dangerous and might be overlooked by the bettors.

Clairiere

Clairiere proved to be the best older female over the summer, impressively winning both the Ogden Phipps and Shuvee (G2) with gutsy late surges past Malathaat. So what went wrong in the Personal Ensign (G1)? She acted up in the gate and hit her head, cutting her tongue, and never wanted to run throughout the race. Connections have freshened her 10 weeks in advance of the Distaff.

Is she still the best in her division? There will be plenty of speed for Clairiere to run down late, and there is no doubt that the Distaff has been the target all year, so expect another peak effort like we saw in last year's edition at Del Mar, when Clairiere came up fourth, only three-quarters of length shy of winning, after a bold closing kick.

Society

Society’s win in the Cotillion (G1) showed me that this three-year-old filly by Gun Runner is yet another example of Asmussen’s ability to slowly develop his runners so they peak towards the end of the racing year. A frontrunner through and through, she beat a classy field by nearly six lengths going a sixteenth of a mile shorter than the 1 1/8 miles distance of the Distaff last time. Society earned a field-best 109 Brisnet Speed figure for the impressive performance.

In her only loss, the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at Saratoga, Society fell to her knees trying to get out of the gate, bumping into a foe and losing three lengths early. She will look to put her name in the mix for top three-year-old filly, but bettors love a frontrunner with big speed figures, so will the price be right on Society?

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