In close to a carbon copy of their previous meeting, Hronis Racing's Stellar Wind again got the measure of Beholder in the $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes Oct. 1 at Santa Anita Park. In doing so Stellar Wind earned an expense-paid berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Just like the Clement L. Hirsch July 30 at Del Mar, Stellar Wind and jockey Victor Espinoza stalked, then applied pressure to the front-running three-time champion in the turn and grinded out a victory in a stretch duel to the wire.
"I worked harder in her last race ... than I did today," Espinoza said. "It's always good to be next to Beholder—next to the queen. It's always a plus. To be able to pull away the last eighth—it's not easy. It's hard, but Stellar Wind is an incredible (filly) and she will continue to be good."
The 4-year-old Curlin filly trained by John Sadler
edged her rival by a neck in the 1 1/16-mile Zenyatta, which followed a half-length score in the Hirsch. On Sunday, the top pair finished 11 ¾ lengths clear of third-place finisher Vale Dori.
"We thought she'd be a better 4-year-old," Sadler said of Stellar Wind, who earned 3-year-old champion filly honors in 2015. "These mares peak at 4 and she's a bigger, stronger horse this year. She's relatively fresh and we get to go into the Breeders' Cup off three starts. We're looking forward to it."
Beholder set fractions of :23.55, :46.23, and 1:09.75 through six furlongs. Stellar Wind took over to cover a mile in 1:35.06 and hit the wire in 1:41.80.
"Nothing really went wrong, except I was on the lead and a sitting duck once again," said Beholder's jockey, Gary Stevens. "No pace except for me, and realistic fractions. I flat got outrun. I have no excuses."
After the race Beholder's trainer, Richard Mandella, committed to the Breeders' Cup Distaff over a run in the Breeders' Cup Classic. In the Distaff, she's likely to face Stellar Wind and Songbird, another champion.
"We'll go to the Distaff from here," the Hall of Fame conditioner said. "My mare didn't look like she ever gave up and those two finished well clear of the rest of them. We really didn't intend to go to the lead, but with a five-horse field, what are you going to do?
"Not to make excuses, but yes, I think a full field will help us next time."
Stellar Wind, the 2-1 second choice, paid $6, $2.20, and $2.10 across the board. Beholder brought $2.10 and $2.10, and Vale Dori paid $2.40 to show. Tara's Tango finished an even fourth, followed by Off the Road, to complete the order of finish.
Bred in Virginia, out of the Malibu Moon mare Evening Star, Stellar Wind now has a 7-2-1 record from 11 starts with more than $1.3 million in earnings. – Jeremy Balan
FrontRunner Stakes (Grade 1): Gormley made his stakes debut a winning effort, scoring a three-length, front-running win in the $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes Oct. 1 at Santa Anita Park to earn a spot in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile starting gate.
Trained by John Shirreffs for owners Jerry and Ann Moss, Gormley broke well from the rail under jockey Victor Espinoza and cruised through a quarter-mile in :23.72 and a half-mile in :47.18. The son of Malibu Moon opened a big advantage in the far turn and was not seriously threatened by 1-5 favorite and Del Mar Futurity winner Klimt, who rallied for second. Straight Fire came in another 4 ½ lengths back in third.
Gormley improved to two-for-two, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.57. He returned $23.60 to win, $5 to place, and $3 to show while Klimt paid $2.20 and $2.10. Straight Fire paid $2.20 to show. – Frank Angst
Find the complete FrontRunner replay and results.
Rodeo Drive Stakes (Grade 1): Entered after her first graded stakes win in her previous effort, Avenge successfully jumped up to the Grade 1 level with a front-running victory in the $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes Oct. 1 at Santa Anita Park.
With the win in the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race to the Filly and Mare Turf, Avenge will enter that race at Santa Anita on a three-race win streak for trainer Richard Mandella.
Avenge broke well in the 1 ¼-mile race and led at every call, cruising through a half-mile in :47.44 and six furlongs in 1:11.40 under Flavien Prat. The 4-year-old daughter of War Front was shadowed throughout by favorite Zipessa but when challenged coming off the far turn, Avenge found more and sailed home to win by three-quarters of a length. Picking up third was Frenzified, who earned her first Grade 1 placing. – Frank Angst
Find the complete Rodeo Drive replay and results here.
Chandelier Stakes (Grade 1): After finishing fourth in her Grade 1 debut in the Del Mar Debutante, Noted and Quoted found success in her second try at the top level with a half-length victory in the $300,000 Chandelier Stakes Oct. 1 at Santa Anita Park. The "Win and You're In" race for the 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies gave Noted and Quoted an expense-paid berth in that race.
After tracking early leader With Honors through most of the 1 1/16-mile race, jockey Rafael Bejarano asked Noted and Quoted for more in early stretch and the daughter of The Factor surged to the lead as With Honors held on for second. Zapperkat finished third.
Trainer Bob Baffert picked up his 10th Chandelier win as Speedway Stables' Noted and Quoted completed the race in 1:44.88. – Frank Angst
Find the complete Chandelier replay and results here.