The Distaff, also known as the Ladies’ Classic from 2008 to 2012, was part of the original seven Breeders’ Cup races rolled out in 1984. It is the premier dirt race for fillies and mares in the country, run at a distance of 1 ⅛ miles on the host track’s main track (it has been conducted on synthetic surfaces in the past).
The Grade 1 race worth $2 million currently has eight ‘Win and You’re In’ events that offer an automatic berth in the starting gate: the Grade 1 Gran Premio Criadores at Palermo, the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont, the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs, the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar, the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga, the Grade 1 Cotillion at Parx, the Grade 1 Zenyatta at Santa Anita and the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland.
The race has been won multiple times by three different horses — Bayakoa, Royal Delta, and Beholder — but its most famous winner is unquestionably Zenyatta, who captured the Distaff in 2008, a year before she beat males in the Classic. Zenyatta retired with a lifetime record of 19-1-0 from 20 starts, her lone blemish coming in the 2010 Classic.