The Distaff division (I refuse to call it the Ladies' Classic unless I have to) has always provided some excitement to Breeders' Cup Day. Actually, the last several years it has provided excitement to Breeders' Cup Friday, ever since they expanded Racing's Greatest Day to Racing's Very Good Two Days. If you look at the list of champions in the Distaff, you will find a cornucopia of champions including Princess Rooney, Life's Magic, Bayakoa, Paseana, Azeri, Ashado, and of course, Zenyatta. You will also find (like any Breeders' Cup race) your share of surprising winners like One Dreamer, Jewel Princess, and last year's Life Is Sweet.
However, no winner of the Distaff was quite the surprise that Spain was in 2000. Firstly, it must be remembered that the defending champion, Beautiful Pleasure, was part of that field, as was Surfside, Heritage Of Gold and Riboletta. It certainly was not a sluggish bunch of challengers, nor was it the most outstanding field in Distaff history. Surfside and Beautiful Pleasure certainly were prominent throughout the race. Surfside set the pace and while Beautiful Pleasure did apply some pressure at various points of the race, she could not defend her championship. Meanwhile, jockey Victor Espinoza had Spain well-positioned throughout the race, down on the rail and forwardly placed. Therefore, when Surfside tired from setting the pace, Spain was there and able to roll up the rail to take the lead at the top of the stretch and was never really challenged the rest of the way home. She more or less cruised through the stretch and won nicely by two lengths. She paid a remarkable 50-1 for her victory, remarkable because she was trained by D. Wayne Lukas and owned by Prince Ahmed bin Salman's Thoroughbred Corporation. Those two names usually resulted in payoffs just slightly less than 50-1 back in 2000.
The 2000 Distaff was the biggest win of Spain's career, although she retired as the richest mare in North American history. Overall, she won nine of 35 starts and hit the board sixteen other times for a total earnings of $3,540,542. If you would like to watch the 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmwTpImcBcA.
Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!