10/31/2017 5:59PM

Key contenders in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff


Stellar Wind, by Curlin
Last 3 Beyers: 103-101-94

* Her flaw is that she occasionally breaks slowly. Trainer John Sadler acknowledged her imperfection.

“She’s not nervous in the gate but she’s a little distracted,” he said. “She’s a horse that likes to stop and look at her surroundings.”

* Victor Espinoza has ridden her 13 times.

“She doesn’t do much on her own,” Espinoza said. “I have to ask her every single time. It’s not like she is going to take me there. But I know she’s capable of doing all the work; I just have to make her do it.”

* Stellar Wind is likely to be forwardly placed, either second or third, behind the expected pacesetter Paradise Woods. Stellar Wind runs best when she is asked for speed; she defeated Beholder twice in 2016 employing an up-front style.

Elate, by Medaglia d’Oro
Last 3 Beyers: 97-98-91

* She has been one of the most talked about horses at Del Mar since her arrival, because of her improving form, outstanding gallops, and strong workout for Mott.

* Mott is the Breeders’ Cup fourth-leading trainer by wins (10) and earnings ($18,286,000). Mott is 5 for 13 in the Distaff.

* Jockey Irad Ortiz is 2 for 22 in the Breeders’ Cup, having won the 2014 Juvenile Fillies Turf with Lady Eli and 2015 Filly and Mare Turf with Stephanie’s Kitten.

* Elate employs a midpack running style.

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Paradise Woods, by Union Rags
Last 3 Beyers: 105-71-61

* She is expected to set the pace under jockey Flavien Prat.

* Her only start at Del Mar was a sixth-place finish in summer, a race for which trainer Richard Mandella takes the blame. He said, in hindsight, he did not adequately school her at the gate. She “froze up,” broke poorly, and came out of the race body sore.

* Notwithstanding her off-the-board finish in the Del Mar race, Paradise Woods actually worked very well during the summer meet. The surface is not expected to be an issue.

* Mandella said that since Paradise Woods’s most recent win in a four-horse field, the filly has improved.

Forever Unbridled, by Unbridled’s Song
Last 3 Beyers: 98-89-103

* She got a late start to her 2017 campaign due to arthroscopic surgery for a bone chip in her left front ankle.

* Forever Unbridled is a deep closer that would benefit from a lively pace. That may or may not happen.

* Karma handicappers might downgrade her due to a surprising late rider switch. Joel Rosario has been the 5-year-old’s regular rider since June 2016, but owner Charles Fipke made an unexpected late change and replaced him with John Velazquez. Fipke said the change was a “business decision.” Velazquez was 2 for 2 on Forever Unbridled before Rosario gained the mount.

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Abel Tasman, by Quality Road
Last 3 Beyers: 95-92-99

* She “ran off” in two recent starts, a win over Elate and a runner-up finish in the Cotillion. Baffert and jockey Mike Smith believe steps can be taken to prevent a recurrence. In all her recent works, Abel Tasman has settled willingly and finished with purpose.

* Due to her closing style, Abel Tasman is at the mercy of pace. She is expected to be positioned in the rear flight and rally late.

* Abel Tasman began her career with trainer Simon Callaghan, for whom she won the Grade 1 Starlet last fall at Los Alamitos. Her co-owner, China Horse Club, moved the filly to Baffert after the filly’s jockey purportedly wore the wrong silks in her first start of 2017.

* Since moving to Baffert, Abel Tasman has three wins, two seconds, and is the leading candidate to be named champion 3-year-old filly. Elate and Paradise Woods also are leading Eclipse candidates.

Romantic Vision, by Lemon Drop Kid
Last 3 Beyers: 96-92-36

* She benefitted from a sloppy track last month at Keeneland, where she scored her first Grade 1 victory in the Spinster Stakes. Her career-high Beyer on fast track is 92.

* Romantic Vision was expected to finish her career by running Nov. 23 n the Grade 2 Falls City at Churchill Downs. Those plans changed after her Win and You’re In victory in the Spinster. Brian Hernandez rides for trainer Rusty Arnold.

Champagne Room, by Broken Vow
Last 3 Beyers: 92-82-78

* A live longshot, Champagne Room has a pressing style that could lead to a cozy trip positioned second or third behind the pacesetter. She has trained particularly well since returning from a prep-race stakes win at Remington Park.

* Her campaign was interrupted in March when she underwent arthroscopic surgery for a bone chip in an ankle.

* Champagne Room was the champion 2-year-old filly of 2016 after her upset victory in the BC Juvenile Fillies. Mario Gutierrez rides for trainer Pete Eurton.

Mopotism, by Uncle Mo
Last 3 Beyers: 93-83-83

* Frankie Dettori rides the 3-year-old filly, who is the longest shot in the field.

* Her main achievement is a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks in June at Santa Anita. Doug O’Neill trains Mopotism.

– additional reporting by David Grening