Horse racing: Princess of Sylmar headed to BC Distaff
The final decision will be made on Saturday, when Princess of Sylmar breezes at Belmont Park, but otherwise, it’s all systems go for Ed Stanco’s 3-year-old filly to run in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
The Schenectady native Stanco, whose nom de course is King of Prussia Stable, said on Thursday that he has sent the $100,000 supplemental fee to the Breeders’ Cup so that Princess of Sylmar can run in the Distaff on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park.
He said during the Saratoga Race Course meet that he would prefer to give Princess of Sylmar, a homebred and the only horse Stanco has on the track, a break instead of running in the Breeders’ Cup.
The Todd Pletcher-trained filly did not cooperate with that plan, though, by remaining sound, fit and eager to work, so it’ll be on to Santa Anita, as long as she comes out of Saturday’s work fine.
“We didn’t want to be home watching it on TV, with her in the barn, if she was able to go, and hear the commentator say, ‘If Princess of Sylmar was here, it would’ve been different,’ ” Stanco said. “So, in that sense, this is really for the fans more than for us, because she got a lot bigger than us.”
Princess of Sylmar is the only filly in history to have won the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama and Beldame in the same season.
Those are four Grade I victories that have put Princess of Sylmar in commanding position to win the Eclipse Award for 3-year-old fillies and even gives her an outside shot at Horse of the Year.
Stanco, an actuary and CEO of Toa Reinsurance in Morristown, N.J., has proceeded with the utmost caution with her, though, and said after she upset two-time champion Royal Delta in the Beldame at Belmont Park on Sept. 28 that there was only a “20 percent chance” she would go to the Breeders’ Cup.
That, at least, was an increase from the 0 percent chance she had after winning the CCA Oaks and Alabama at Saratoga.
“Todd said all along that we wanted to take it carefully,” Stanco said. “She was doing well, so we went to the Beldame to run against Royal Delta because we felt like we had nothing to lose.
“She did that, and she did it exceedingly well. I still didn’t want to go to the Breeders’ Cup, but Todd said, ‘She’s doing so well, let’s give it a couple weeks.’ ”
Princess of Sylmar stayed in Saratoga to work for two weeks after the meet ended on Labor Day and breezed at Belmont last Saturday in her first published workout since the Beldame, in which she cruised past the 5-year-old Royal Delta to win by two lengths.
Stanco plans to run her next year at 4, but in the meantime, she has shown all the signs of wanting another race.
The Distaff field is expected to include Royal Delta, who has won the $2 million race (previously the Ladies Classic before being renamed Distaff) the last two years.
Also scheduled to run is the 3-year-old Beholder, the 2012 2-year-old filly champion whom Princess of Sylmar defeated at odds of 38-1 in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.
Stanco, a 1967 Linton High graduate who frequently went to Saratoga while growing up in Schenectady, fulfilled a dream — twice — by winning a big stakes race at Saratoga, for which jockey statues will be painted in his now familiar purple silks with the light blue “V” on the chest.
That would’ve been plenty, but Princess of Sylmar keeps acting like a horse who is sitting on a big performance.
“The analogy I make is to the 1984 Olympics, when Carl Lewis took two jumps, and everyone was waiting for the third one to see if he could break the world record,” Stanco said. “He skipped it to save himself for the 100 meters or something, and it was a big, big disappointment.
“We’ll take the third jump.”