Sometimes being a champion is all about timing. Just ask Stellar Wind, the brilliant five-year-old mare who has gone undefeated through 2017 after having to deal with two of the sport’s all-time best through last season. With Songbird sadly retired this year due to unexpected injuries, and Beholder having hung up the saddle last year, this seems like the year for the 2015 Champion Three Year Old Filly.
At this point last year, some were touting Stellar Wind as an upset specialist in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Though she had somehow managed to avoid competing against Songbird, she couldn’t do the same with Beholder. The two first met in the 2016 Vanity and placed 1st and 2nd respectively.
Then the unexpected happened, as it usually does in this wonderful sport. Stellar Wind upset Beholder not once, but twice in the Clement L Hirsch Stakes and the Zenyatta Stakes later that year. No longer an afterthought to the top-two female runners in the country, the then four-year-old mare next entered the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff as a 5/2 co-favorite, but fell off the pace down the homestretch to finish a disappointing fourth. She was surpassed by Forever Unbridled, who finished third while Beholder and Songbird finished 1st and 2nd in one of the best races the sport has ever witnessed.
Fast forward to the current season and trainer John Sadler has his top trainee right on course. Stellar Wind has bested the 2-17 Apple Blossom and 2017 Clement L. Hirsh Stakes while also winning the inagural running of the Beholder Mile, which was hosted by Santa Anita in June. All this being said, it hasn’t been easy. Vale Dori has been neck-and-neck with Stellar in both the Clement L. Hirsch and Beholder Mile, and there’s certainly those that think she can find a way to beat the fifth-ranked horse in the world at the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Also in the field are Forever Unbridled and Abel Tasman, who have both laid down their case for the Distaff with monster seasons of their own.
In the end, in order to prove that she belongs amongst the greatest of all time, Stellar Wind will have to beat the best of her generation. She was unable to beat former legend Songbird, but if she can put away her rivals in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, then a Hall of Fame invitation is in her distant future.