09/18/2007 11:00PM

BC Distaff: Ginger Punch early favorite

EmailWith Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches done for the year and the undefeated Nashoba's Key tentatively targeting the Filly and Mare Turf, Ginger Punch now becomes the long-range favorite for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff.

That's if her connections put up $180,000 to supplement to the race.

"The only thing I'm scared of, and I'm talking about it and I'll probably do it, is end in the 14 hole if you put up $180,000," trainer Bobby Frankel said. "Now, the race is going to fill up a lot without Rags in there."

The final five prep races will determine the size of the Distaff field. Ginger Punch, who is coming off wins in the Go for Wand and Ruffian, is tentatively pointing to the Grade 1, $600,000 Beldame at Belmont Park on Sept. 30. That race is expected to draw California shipper Balance, Indian Vale, Miss Shop, Mo Cuishle, and Teammate.

Take D' Tour, who beat Ginger Punch in the Ogden Phipps but lost to her in the Ruffian, could run back in the Beldame, trainer David Fawkes said. Fawkes added that owners Alice and Paul Muller are strongly considering putting up the $180,000 fee to nominate to the Breeders' Cup.

Asi Siempre, who finished second but was disqualified to fourth in last year's Distaff, is being pointed to the $500,000 Spinster at Keeneland on Oct. 7. Trainer Patrick Biancone said Asi Siempre is "very well now" after a bruised foot forced her to miss the Arlington Matron on Sept. 8.

The Spinster also is expected to attract Alabama winner Lady Joanne and High Heels, runner-up to Pleasant Hill in the Gardenia Handicap. Pleasant Hill is targeting the $175,000 Turfway Park Breeders' Cup on Sept. 29.

Hystericalady, the impressive winner of the Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Handicap at Monmouth Park, is pointing to the $250,000 Lady's Secret at Santa Anita on Oct. 7.

Despite losing Rags to Riches, trainer Todd Pletcher could still bring a strong hand to the Distaff. Octave, winner of the Mother Goose and Coaching Club American Oaks and a troubled third in the Alabama, will be a short-priced favorite in Saturday's $750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion at Philadelphia Park. Other horses Pletcher could run in the Distaff are Indian Vale, Unbridled Belle, and Panty Raid.