Unlike many of the boys who are heading off to the stallion shed, expect to see the standout fillies and mares coming out of the Breeders’ Cup at a track near you in 2022. Where and when you’ll see them is a story still being written.
Take Letruska, who was running for a shot at Horse of the Year in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Instead, the 8/5 favorite locked into a suicidal speed duel with Bob Baffert’s Private Mission. She wound up 10th of 11, with jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. saying afterward he couldn’t slow the 5-year-old mare down.
“That race was very, very fast in the beginning and we saw the result,” trainer Fausto Gutierrez told the Breeders’ Cup notes team afterward. “The five horses that were in the back were the five horses that arrived in the front. That’s what happened.”
So what happens next for Letruska, who went 6-for-8 with four Grade 1 victories in 2021? After she rides off as the presumable Older Dirt Female Horse of the Year, Letruska will return for her 6-year-old campaign. Gutierrez said he plans to give her significant time off before plotting Letruska’s 2022 path.
Letruska vs. Malathaat looms next year
She likely will run into Todd Pletcher’s Malathaat, the likely winner of the Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Eclipse Award. The Ashland, Kentucky Oaks, and Alabama winner avoided that speed duel, finishing a solid third in the Distaff as the 7/2 second favorite. That defeat to 49/1 Japanese invader Marche Lorraine and runner-up Dunbar Road came by a mere half-length.
“It was really a strangely run race,” said Pletcher, who lamented Malathaat’s finish based on her talent. “There was such a blazing opening quarter and half, and things got kind of tricky for the closers in the far turn because the pack was coming back too rapidly as the closers were starting to build up momentum.”
Pletcher said Malathaat came out of “her great race” fine. She’ll spend the remainder of the fall at her Shadwell Farm home in Kentucky before re-joining Pletcher’s stable at Gulfstream Park this winter.
Did we see Gamine’s last race in the Breeders’ Cup?
Also returning to the track is Shedaresthedevil, the 2020 Kentucky Oaks champion. This, after she sold for $5 million on Tuesday at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale at Keeneland. According to the Daily Racing Form, the daughter of Daredevil – who won four races on three different tracks in 2021 – will return to Brad Cox’s barn for her 5-year-old campaign. She finished sixth in the Distaff.
“She has no issues and is a very sound filly,” Cox said on Sunday.
And then, we come to Gamine. Baffert said on Sunday that no decision has been made for 2022 regarding last year’s Champion Female Sprinter. This, after she ran a disappointing third by 3 ¼ lengths as the 2/5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. She was the defending champion in that race, and her dominating presence scared the field down to five horses.
Ce Ce returned with her third stakes win of 2021
Two of those, 6.20/1 Ce Ce and 16.60/1 Edgeway, finished ahead of Gamine, who lost only her second race in 11 career starts. It was her first one-turn defeat.
“I probably should have given her a prep race before the Breeders’ Cup. She just got tired,” Baffert said. “We knew there was a lot of speed in the race and we thought about taking her back. But when she broke great, we had no choice.”
The untimely third snapped a five-race winning streak dating to last year’s Filly & Mare Sprint. Gamine currently sits with more than $1.77 million in career earnings and five Grade 1 titles among her nine victories.