LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After some anxious post-race moments, 4-year-old filly Stopchargingmaria withstood a late charge by Stellar Wind and a jockey objection to win the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff by a neck.
The win in Friday's headline race gave trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Javier Castellano their second BC win of the day at Keeneland Racecourse before a crowd in excess of 44,000. They combined to win the BC Dirt Mile earlier in the day with West Point Thoroughbred's Liam's Map.
Stopchargingmaria paid her backers $16.20 to win, $8.40 to place and $6 to show, completing in the 1 1/8-miles in 1:36.36. Stellar Wind paid $9.20 for second and $6.60 to show. Curalina finished third and returned $7 to show. Stopchargingmaria earned $1,100,000 for the win, going off at odds of 7-1.
In her 16 career races the winner has hit the board 13 times and completed a fantastic 2015 campaign with her third win of the year. She previously won the Dupont Distaff on Black-Eyed Susan day and the Shuvee Handicap at Saratoga. She avenged a fourth-place finish in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga where she was beaten by Sheer Drama and ?Got Lucky.
After an early duel between My Sweet Addiction and Yahilwa, that contributed to early fractions of 23.57 for the first quarter and 47.28 in the first half, they both gave way at the quarter pole to the top two finishers who stayed 1-2 down the stretch. Stellar Wind's jockey Victor Espinoza put in a claim of foul on Castellano for interference and after a lengthy delay, the stewards upheld the win for the daughter of Tale of the Cat.
The two wins for Pletcher increased his career Breeders' Cup wins to nine and his first Distaff since Ashado won in 2004. It was the sixth Breeders' Cup victory for Castellano who had never won the Distaff before today. "It worked out perfect. The key was in the first turn when I put her outside of Wedding Toast," said Castellano.
"To me the real key was not to run back after the Personal Ensign," said Pletcher. "She tends to run some of her best races fresh. She's a really easy to filly to read. When she's on her game she trains exceptionally well."
Tomorrow there are nine BC races on tap, anchored by the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic. Be sure to check tomorrow's print edition for my advance on the big race.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.