As preparations for the Breeders’ Cup step up a gear with just a few weeks before the thoroughbred ‘world championship’ of racing begins, the early betting points to a host of open races with very few short-priced favorites dominating.
One horse that does fall into the category of hot favorite, however, is Letruska, the five-year-old filly tearing up the ante-post betting for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
The latest moves on the daughter of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver followed her victory at Saratoga in the Grade I $600,000 Personal Ensign, the win confirming her place at Del Mar in November.
She has registered six wins from her last seven races, her only defeat coming when she lost by a head in the Grade Two Azeri at Oaklawn Park, beaten by Shedaresthedevil. She did gain revenge on the Brad Cox-trained filly in the Grade One Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park, and the two are set line up again at Del Mar.
The early betting has Letruska as short as 7/4 (+175) for the Distaff, with Shedaresthedevil at 9/1 (+900). Also high on most racing watcher’s list for the one-and-a-quarter mile race is Grade One winner Malathaat 6/1 (+600), the Todd Fletcher-trained three-year-old an impressive winner of the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.
But while many horses from Europe have their sights set on success in the Breeders’ Cup, with the meeting’s richest race the Breeders’ Cup Classic a particular draw, the focus in the Distaff is on horses from this side of the Atlantic, with Letruska’s impressive run of form forcing the racing world to sit up and take notice.
She won each of her first seven races in Mexico before an American debut against older males in the one-and-a-quarter mile Copa Invitacional del Caribe in December last year at Gulfstream Park, where she cruised in her inimitable front-running style to an impressive 4¼-length triumph.
The one defeat aside, her approach of speeding out the starting stalls and challenging her opponents to reel her in has proved highly successful, but she faces the biggest test of her career at Del Mar.
But her connections have the ultimate belief in her, and the efforts at Saratoga impressed trainer Fausto Gutierrez, but they didn’t prevent him from going through the gamut of emotions before she secured the win.
“I had concerns when they were running at her because these are very good horses and they are in good form,” said Gutierrez, who set up a training centre at Palm Meadows in Florida a couple of years ago. “I’m very pleased with the way she ran. Every place that she’s run, with all the horses she’s run against. She’s fast, she fights and she’s a real racehorse. She has ability but more she has a big heart. This is a special horse.
“To have this speed and to be able to run long distances, you have to have a strong heart. She has that. Not for nothing, I think this is one of the top horses in the country.”
The betting for the Distaff also includes another Brad Cox-trained filly, Bonny South,12/1 (+1200), who won the Grade Three Baird Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland in April, before finishing runner-up to Letruska twice in the Ogden Phipps and the Personal Ensign. Our media has already written that it is possible to bet on horse races and even online in many states of the USA.