Midnight Bisou Could Give Smith A Sixth Distaff Victory
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
Midnight Bisou in the 2019 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) could give jockey Mike Smith his sixth victory in the $2 million race. Smith already has the record with five wins in a race that has produced some of the Breeders’ Cup’s greatest moments.
Smith’s first win came in 1995 with Inside Information, who demolished the field at Belmont Park by 13 ½ lengths over stablemate Heavenly Prize. The stellar field included multiple grade 1 winner Serena’s Song and Mariah’s Storm, who went on to be the dam of Giant’s Causeway, second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2000.
Two years later, Smith aboard Ajina outran dual millionaire Sharp Cat and stablemate Escena at the now defunct Hollywood Park. He had to wait five years for a third Distaff, but 2002 proved to be a tour de force aboard Azeri.
The winner of 17 of 24 starts and over $4 million, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame inductee Azeri was a superstar. She led every step of the way in the Distaff at Arlington Park, running the first six furlongs in 1:09.3 and drawing off to win by five lengths. She has gone on to be a classy broodmare both in the United States and Japan.
It was hard to imagine that Smith could ever pilot a mare better than Azeri or Inside Information, but in 2008 he was aboard the mighty Zenyatta, who took the Distaff (then known as the Ladies Classic). She was unbeaten in nine starts at the time, and went on to win 19 in a row – including the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic – before missing by a head in the 2010 Classic. Zenyatta was also inducted into the Hall of Fame; her two-year-old daughter Zellda is in training at Santa Anita, where the 2019 Breeders’ Cup will be held.
After Zenyatta, Smith rode defending champion Royal Delta to win in 2012. This year, he will pilot Midnight Bisou, who is riding a seven-race winning streak this season, with three grade 1 scores.
Smith is not the only rider to produce memorable Distaff finishes. He was aboard unbeaten Songbird – 11 for 11 – when she lost by just a nose behind the great Beholder in the 2016 Distaff. Beholder was a three-time Breeders’ Cup winner before her retirement.
In 1988, Randy Romero was aboard the unbeaten Personal Ensign in the slop at Churchill Downs. She had to run down Kentucky Derby winning filly Winning Colors and just got up on the wire, scoring by a nose. Personal Ensign retired with a perfect record in 13 tries, and produced 1995 Juvenile Fillies winner My Flag, who produced 2002 Juvenile Fillies winner Storm Flag Flying.
The Distaff has produced some of the Breeders’ Cup biggest upsets. In 2000, Spain won and paid $113.80, with One Dreamer ($96.20), Adoration ($83.40), and Pleasant Home ($64.50) all paying large dividends. But favorites win at a 42.8% clip.
Who will win the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Distaff? Find out November 2 and make sure to wager on the race with TVG.
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