October 26, 2018
AT HOME IN LOUISVILLE
by Brian Nadeau, Xpressbet
ANALYSIS: Often one of the shorter fields and more predictable Breeders’ Cup events, this year’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff feels more contentious than the toteboard might suggest. While standout three-year-old MONOMOY GIRL may start as a solid favorite and last year’s runner-up ABEL TASMAN will attract plenty of support, too, their margin for error is slim. BLUE PRIZE, LA FORCE, MIDNIGHT BISOU, VALE DORI, and WOW CAT are about as fast on paper and will offer healthier odds than the top pair.
MAIN CONTENDERS: There’s little doubt MONOMOY GIRL is the one to beat, as she’s finished first in a quintet of Grade 1s this year; is 2-for-3 at Churchill Downs, including a win in the Kentucky Oaks; and is 2-for-2 at the distance. However, she’s also danced many dances, doesn’t have a decisive edge on speed figures, has yet to face older gals and drew widest of all. ABEL TASMAN wins this on her best. She’s 3-for-4 at the distance and won the 2017 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill. However, a distant fifth at 1-9 in her final prep leaves unanswered questions—like was she ill or not?
VALUE PLAYS: BLUE PRIZE may be overlooked in the wagering, but the consistent 5-year-old mare is playable at 9-2 or more. She’s 8: 4-3-1 at the distance and 5: 3-2-0 at Churchill Downs. She’s also won 4 out of her last 5 starts, including the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland while inexplicably veering out in the lane. Conversely, LA FORCE drew much better and will be upwards of four times the price. She’s just 2-for-22 lifetime, but has been second 7 times, including 3-in-a-row in Grade 1 Southern California races. Her off-the-pace style may fit better at Churchill than it did at Santa Anita or Del Mar.
WAGERING STRATEGY ($100):