April 22, 2024

Distaff Diary

Last updated: 3/1/05 7:24 PM


MARCH 2, 2005

by Hunter T. Houlihan

The distaff division took some
heavy losses over the winter, with 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri (Jade Hunter),
champion two-year-old Storm Flag Flying
(Storm Cat) and multiple Grade 1 winner Sightseek (Distant View) all headed to the broodmare barn. Stepping up to fill those big shoes
are the likes of recent Shirley Jones H. (G2) heroine MADCAP ESCAPADE
(Hennessy), who had not started since suffering her first career defeat in last
year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1). The bay four-year-old shows a near-perfect mark of
6-5-0-1, including a win in the 2004 Ashland S. (G1), and proved that she is a
leading contender in the older filly and mare division after taking the Shirley Jones by two lengths off a
near 10-month layoff.

Champion three-year-old filly
ASHADO (Saint Ballado), who has yet to make a start this year after a remarkable 2004
campaign, is the divisional leader until she does so. The Todd Pletcher trainee won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), Kentucky Oaks and Coaching
Club American Oaks (G1) en route to a stellar record of 8-5-2-1 in 2004 with
earnings of $2,259,640. She has been training forwardly at Palm Meadows in
preparation for her four-year-old debut in the April 9 Apple Blossom H. (G1).

SOCIETY SELECTION (Coronado’s Quest) nearly fell at the start of
the Shirley Jones and thus was never really in the contest. Still, the
three-time Grade 1 winner should be respected in her next start. Another
four-year-old filly not to be immediately dismissed off a disappointing first
start of the year is DAYDREAMING (A.P. Indy), who was sent off as the 4-5
favorite in the February 26 Sabin H. (G3), but bobbled at the start and then ran
into traffic problems in the stretch to finish fourth.

Sold at the 2004 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale for $3.6
million, STELLAR JAYNE (Wild Rush) reportedly could return to action later in
the year. The dual Grade 1 winner merits respect.

In California, SALT
CHAMP (Arg) (Salt Lake) made her U.S. bow a memorable one when taking the
January 30 Santa Monica H. (G1) by one length over another top-class distaffer,
ISLAND FASHION (Petionville). A three-time Group 1 winner in her
native land, the five-year-old Salt Champ could be any kind this year for
Richard Mandella. Three-time Grade 1 heroine Island Fashion will test males once
again in Saturday’s Santa Anita H. (G1). She finished second in last year’s 1
1/4-mile event.

MISS LOREN (Arg) (Numerous) is another promising distaffer. The
seven-year-old mare is two-for-two so far in 2005, winning the Santa Maria H.
(G1) most recently.