Stellar Wind will welcome a fair chance at the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, just this once, in her third and final attempt.
What will it take?
“Good break, good trip,” trainer John Sadler said.
Simple enough, but those elements were missing when Stellar Wind finished second with an eventful trip in the 2015 Distaff and fourth after breaking slowly in 2016.
Third time the charm?
In 2017, everything has gone right for Stellar Wind. Her three starts have produced three Grade 1 victories, and elevated the 5-year-old to the role of Distaff favorite.
It is a good position, although Stellar Wind faces a talented wave of upstart 3-year-olds.
Six of the nine pre-entered in the $2 million Distaff, to be run Nov. 3 at Del Mar, are 3-year-olds, including Grade 1 winners Elate, Paradise Woods, Abel Tasman, It Tiz Well, and Champagne Room. The 3-year-old Mopotism is the longest shot in the field.
As for the 5-year-olds, Stellar Wind, Forever Unbridled, and Romantic Vision each won a Grade 1 last out.
Stellar Wind, the 2015 champion 3-year-old filly who has 10 wins and more than $2.2 million in earnings from 15 starts, enters from a 97-day layoff, which would be a record for a Distaff winner.
Sadler and owners Kosta and Pete Hronis send Stellar Wind in the Distaff and Accelerate in the Dirt Mile in search of their first Breeders’ Cup win.
“These are probably the two best chances we’ve had,” Sadler said, acknowledging his 0-for-39 Breeders’ Cup record.
Only five Sadler BC runners started at less than 5-1, and he has never started a BC favorite. That is likely to change. Stellar Wind is the 3-1 favorite on the Daily Racing Form early line.
Stellar Wind’s 3-year-old rivals are led by Elate. She romped in Grade 1’s in her two most-recent starts, including the Beldame against older fillies and mares. Her trainer, Bill Mott, has won the Distaff five times. Elate is 7-2 second favorite by DRF.
Paradise Woods returned to form last out in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes. Paradise Woods is likely to set the pace in the Distaff, a race trainer Richard Mandella has won twice.
Abel Tasman’s three Grade 1 wins this year include the Kentucky Oaks. Although she ran off some in her two most-recent starts, a win and a second, she has settled in recent workouts for Bob Baffert, who seeks his first Distaff victory.
Forever Unbridled, third in the Distaff one year ago, won both her starts this year and has seven career wins over seven racetracks. Trainer Dallas Stewart won the 2001 Distaff with Unbridled Elaine. Forever Unbridled is the 4-1 third choice by DRF.
It Tiz Well won the Cotillion last out over Abel Tasman. Early this year she defeated Elate at Oaklawn Park. It Tiz Well’s trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer, has three runner-up finishes in the Distaff – Songbird, 2016; Blind Luck, 2010; Hystericalady, 2007.
Romantic Vision won the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland, and Champagne Room won the 2016 BC Juvenile Fillies and makes her second start of 2017 in the Distaff.
The 1 1/8-mile Distaff is race 9 on a 10-race card. Post time for the Distaff is 4:35 p.m. Pacific.