No Unique Bella Opens Distaff Division

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D.S. Williamson

August 29th, 2018

Even after Unique Bella's retirement, the Distaff Division remains solid. Abel Tasman, Elate, and 3-year-old fillies Monomoy Girl, Wonder Gadot, and Eskimo Kisses should make for a great Breeders' Cup Distaff.

With Unique Bella's participation, the race could have been one of the best. Without Unique Bella, it will still be great. Check out my Top 5 in the Distaff Division.

No Unique Bella Opens Distaff Division

1. Abel Tasman

She can run right on the lead, like when she did to win the Personal Ensign over the weekend, or she can run from the clouds, like she did to win the Kentucky Oaks. In the Personal Ensign, she ran the half in :46.3 and still held off Elate. She did bump with Elate, but I question if Elate would have gotten past Abel Tasman before the wire if the two mares hadn't bumped.

She's only finished off the board in 2 of 14 starts. One of the off the board finishes was a 4th in the La Troienne at Churchill Downs on May 4. Trouble at the gate is what led to that off the board finish. So, don't put too much into her off the board finish in the La Troienne at Churchill Downs, this year's Breeders' Cup site.

2. Elate

I don't believe Elate would have gotten to Abel Tasman if they hadn't bumped late in the stretch. I do believe that Elate might have beaten Abel Tasman if jockey Junior Alvarado had moved sooner. By moving sooner, Junior would have forced Mike Smith to speed up on Abel Tasman sooner.

No matter.  The Personal Ensign is in the past. Elate's run stellar in her two races this year. She could peak in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. That makes her the likeliest winner if Abel Tasman doesn't fire.

3. Monomoy Girl

Although she's won 8 of 9 and 4 Grade 1 races in a row, the 3-year-old filly of the year hasn't yet peaked. She can run faster. What's crazy is that she's improved every race. Her Kentucky Oaks win was better than her Ashland Stakes win. Her Acorn victory was better than her Oaks victory while she dominated Midnight Bisou in the CCA Oaks.

If the BC Distaff were today, I'd back Monomoy Girl over Abel Tasman and Elate even though I rate those two higher.

4. Wonder Gadot

Ouch. Sure, it was the Travers Stakes, but, last place? The boys drubbed Wonder Gadot in the Travers. Good Magic finished third last and Gronkowski finished second last. The three morning line favorites had nothing in the Travers. Not just Wonder Gadot.

That doesn't mean she bounces back with a huge effort in the Breeders' Cup Distaff. She must prove it in her Distaff prep, though. What if she doesn't have a prep? A race like the Travers can take a lot out of any horse. Let's just leave it at that.

5. Eskimo Kisses

She put it all together to win the Grade 1 Alabama. She had run some decent races, like finishing second to Monomoy Girl in the Ashland.

She should improve enough to have a say in the Distaff outcome. If the pace is swift, Eskimo Kisses could be the best longshot in the race.