The fields for the 14 races that comprise the Breeders’ Cup World Championships really begin to come into focus in summer and fall and this regular feature will offer a snapshot profile of one of the previous weekend’s standout stars.
Blue Stripe punched her ticket to the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff with a win in the $400,000, Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes Aug. 7 at Del Mar. The Distaff is the marquee dirt race of the year for older female racehorses in the United States.
Blue Stripe was a Group 1 winner in her native Argentina who came to the United States in late 2021 with a record of four wins from six starts with her defeats a pair of thirds in Group 1 races. She faced a mighty challenge in her U.S. debut for trainer Marcelo Polanco in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff Nov. 6, 2021, at Del Mar, and was not quite up to the task when seventh, beaten by 16 ¾ lengths by winner Marche Lorraine.
Remaining in Southern California with Polanco, Blue Stripe has emerged as one of the best of the West Coast older dirt female division with wins in the Grade 2 Santa Margarita Stakes in April and the Clement L. Hirsch last weekend. She also posted a runner-up finish to Private Mission in the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes in June.
In the Clement. L. Hirsch, she defeated the aforementioned Private Mission along with one of the best older females in training in Shedaresthedevil to earn an expenses-paid berth to the 2022 Longines Distaff Nov. 5 at Keeneland. Polanco told Del Mar media that he was considering the possibility of training Blue Stripe up to the Distaff and foregoing an additional prep race, which would give her a three-month break between starts in the Clement Hirsch and Distaff.
While she disappointed in that race a year ago, here are four reasons why Blue Stripe’s outlook in the Distaff is significantly better in 2022:
- In 2021, Blue Stripe entered the Distaff off a layoff of six months. That race demands a peak performance to win, and it’s safe to say that is tough to expect in a racehorse’s first start in half a year.
- Blue Stripe’s speed figures are on the rise from an 88 Equibase Speed Figure in last year’s Distaff to a 93 and 100 in her first two starts in 2022. She earned a career-top 101 Equibase Speed Figure in the Clement L. Hirsch, and likewise earned a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure for that victory.
- The older dirt female division was stacked a year ago. While the 2021 Distaff did not play out as many expected when Japanese invader Marche Lorraine pulled off a 49.90-1 upset last November, the quality of the field was superb. Many of the same runners are back in training in 2022, but several, such as Letruska, Malathaat, and Shedaresthedevil, have been significantly less consistent. The race looks wide open in early August.
- Blue Stripe’s pedigree suggests she might improve significantly with age and experience. Her half-sister (same dam [mother]), different sire [father]) Blue Prize finished fourth in the Distaff as a 5-year-old in 2018 and came back to win the Distaff as a 6-year-old by 1 ½ lengths at Santa Anita Park in 2019.