One can well point out that this field was not nearly as strong as it looked at first glance, given that Punchbowl—a first-time stakes starter—was the favorite and that neither Julia Shining nor Wonder Wheel have succeeded in duplicating their 2-year-old form so far this year. Equally salient is the fact that Defining Purpose got an absolutely ideal pace-stalking trip. Nonetheless, she defeated the rivals she faced—all one can ask of any horse—is now a Grade 1 winner, and appears to be headed to the Kentucky Oaks, where her odds will probably be substantially shorter than 20-1.
Defining Purpose is the second Grade 1 winner sired by the Unbridled’s Song horse Cross Traffic, whose previous top-level runner in North America was 2018 American champion 2-year-old filly Jaywalk. Himself the winner of the 2013 Whitney Stakes (USA-G1) and runner-up in the 2013 Metropolitan Handicap (USA-G1) in a brief six-race career, Cross Traffic is also responsible for recent Panamanian Group 1 winner Capocostello, Commonwealth Stakes (USA-G3) winner Here Mi Song, and New York restricted stakes winner Maple Leaf Mel thus far in 2023. Both Defining Purpose and Maple Leaf Mel are sired from the mares attracted to the stallion’s court in 2019, following Jaywalk’s championship season, and Cross Traffic’s 2020 crop showed enough at 2 to rank their sire ninth on the 2022 American juvenile sire list by progeny earnings and second by number of winners.
On the distaff side, Defining Purpose is the first starter and first winner produced from multiple Indiana-bred stakes winner Defining Hope, whose 2019 foal, a colt by Cupid, was never named or raced. A daughter of multiple Grade 1-placed multiple Grade 2 winner Strong Hope (by Grand Slam), Defining Hope has also produced the 2021 Runhappy filly Defining Joy and a 2023 colt by Csaba. Defining Hope, in turn, is out of the unraced Point Given mare On the Point, who sold for just US$7,500 at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale and is out of stakes-placed Longingtobeme (by Belong to Me).
A second-generation homebred for Colette Marie VanMatre (who races the filly in partnership with Magdalena Racing and James Ball), Defining Moment has already been a dream come true for her connections, who got together to race her after she failed to meet her reserve on a US$14,000 bid at the 2021 Keeneland January mixed sale. She has now earned US$543,688, and if her performance was not merely a once-in-a-lifetime fluke, she will have a fair shot at becoming a millionairess in the Kentucky Oaks. She will need a dry track to have much chance, having already proven that she does not care for off going, but if Mother Nature cooperates, she just might be this year’s rags-to-riches story.