The first-ever "Ladies' Day" Friday at the Breeders' Cup World Championships is now in the history books. The championships expanded to a 2-day event last year, and this year, 3 more races were added and all the female races were moved to Friday. 31,257 were on hand at a sun-drenched Santa Anita Park in California, braving the dry 90-degree heat. The turf course was very firm while the main track, a synthetic Pro-Ride surface, is always officially fast.
The Distaff, the premier race for older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the main track, was renamed the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (G1) this year. A field of 8 went to post, but the eyes of the racing world were on undefeated and locally based Zenyatta, sent off as the 1-2 favorite over 6-1 second choice Carriage Trail and 8-1 third choice Cocoa Beach.
Canadian hope Bear Now led for the first 7 furlongs through fractions of 23.71, 48.08 and 1:11.08, while Mike Smith aboard Zenyatta sat in last for the first 3/4 mile. As Bear Now tired and faded to last at the top of the stretch, Smith angled Zenyatta 6-wide and she responded, surging to the front inside the 3/16 pole and drawing clear to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Cocoa Beach in 1:46.85. The time was just 5/100 second off the track record. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Music Note third.