Blue Prize rallied to the lead in midstretch and held off even-money favorite Midnight Bisou late to capture the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Santa Anita. Joe Bravo piloted his first Breeders’ Cup winner, deftly keeping Midnight Bisou along the inside down the backstretch before getting first run on her rival on the far turn, and Blue Prize completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:50.50.
Owned by Merriebelle Stable and based in Kentucky with Ignacio Correas IV, the six-year-old mare was off at 8.90-1 odds and broke from the far outside among 11 females. Blue Prize extended her win streak to three with the 1 ½-length decision. She won the October 6 Spinster (G1) at Keeneland for the second straight year in the previous start, and the Distaff marked her eighth U.S. stakes victory.
Blue Prize has now earned $3,432,253 from a 23-10-8-3 record.
Serengeti Empress sped forward at the start to show the way on a clear lead, registering solid fractions in :22.98, :46.68 and 1:10.83. Blue Prize did not get away alertly and rated well off the pace during the opening half-mile, edging closer while maintaining outside positioning down the backstretch. She launched her bid five wide on the far turn.
The pacesetter still clung to a short lead in upper stretch but proved no match for the oncoming Blue Prize, who surged to the front in the final furlong and drew clear.
Midnite Bisou tried to run down Blue Prize after angling out for the stretch drive, but she was left with too much to do and easily wound up second best while closing determinedly. The classy four-year-old filly sustained her first setback in the eighth start this year. It was another 3 ¼ lengths back to 10-1 Serengeti Empress in third.
Ollie’s Candy, Dunbar Road, Mo See Cal, Wow Cat, Street Band, Secret Spice, La Force and Paradise Woods completed the order of finish.
A chestnut daughter of Pure Prize, Blue Prize was bred in Argentina by Bioart S.A. and won a Group 1 race in her homeland before being imported to North America for the 2017 racing season. She finished fourth in last year’s Distaff after Churchill Downs and opened 2019 with placings in the La Troienne (G1), Fleur des Lis (G2) and Delaware H. (G2) before winning the August 18 Summer Colony at Saratoga.
Blue Prize is out of the Not for Sale mare Blues for Sale, a multiple Group 2 scorer in Argentina.
Winning trainer Ignacio Correas, IV (Blue Prize) – “She’s so unique. She was thriving. But it’s difficult to say when you have a filly like Midnight Bisou in there. She had been facing champion after champion in the last two months. It’s not about my level of satisfaction, it’s about the filly. She has beaten Elate and Midnight Bisou in two months, what else do you want to ask of a horse? She’s a champion and all the credit is for her.
“We have been blessed to have her. It’s been a great ride. We have great owners who let us plan and execute. But it’s all about this filly. It was about the way she needed to run, four-to-five lengths off the pace.”
Winning jockey Joe Bravo (Blue Prize) – “The trip was great. She broke a little slower than I expected, but she was moving up on the backside nice. I looked over and saw Mike Smith kind of asking Midnight Bisou a little soon. Blue Prize was really running her race. When we turned for home, she went on with it.”
Second-place trainer Steve Asmussen (Midnight Bisou, beaten favorite) – “Nothing Midnight Bisou does for us is disappointing. She had a tremendous amount to overcome with all the dirt she took early. A quality filly beat her and got first run on her around the turn. It took Mike (Smith) quite a bit to get her out it that just left her too much to do. The filly came back completely covered (in dirt) and she’s such a champion that she never gave up. She continued to run and I’m unbelievably proud of her. She’s unbelievable. There is no give up in her. For her to keep coming under those circumstances is unbelievable because around the turn she looked hopeless. But, she just showed her class. She kept coming.”
Second-place jockey Mike Smith (Midnight Bisou, beaten favorite) – “It would have been nice to have been in the clear and taken a long run at it. I was bottled up. It’s hard to do on this track right now. The kickback is awful. I’m covered. She took a lot of it, where the winner was clear and got a good long run on me. It’s just hard to come back and catch them on this track right now. It’s safe, which is a good thing, it’s the main thing, but it’s hard to make up ground.”
During the race did you realize it was going to be tough for Midnight Bisou?: “Yes. Going into the far turn she had already had enough of that kickback and was struggling a bit. But, she’s just got so much class. When I finally got her out she took another big breath and gave it a go. She tried hard. I was proud of her.”
Third-place trainer Tom Amoss (Serengeti Empress) – “I feel much better after that. Very proud of my horse. Those are two very talented older mares who beat her. I’m very proud of my horse like I said and we’ll be back next year.”
Third-place jockey Flavien Prat (Serengeti Empress) – “She’s a filly that likes to be in front. We made the lead from a difficult outside post and she relaxed very nice for me. We just got beat by two very good older mares. She ran very well.”
Trainer Chad Brown (Dunbar Road, fifth and Wow Cat, seventh) – “Both horses seemed to be struggling with the track. The jockeys got back to me and said they were climbing a bit and were never really involved. Dunbar Road made an admirable effort and we were able to pick up some pieces. Jose (Ortiz) said, as Irad (Ortiz Jr.) did, that they never really got ahold of the track. Dunbar Road will head down to Florida and point to next year and Wow Cat is in the Fasig-Tipton sale.”