Breeders' Cup - At The Races

STELLAR WIND

Ulysses
  • Trainer: John W Sadler
  • Likely Jockey: Victor Espinoza
  • Owner: Hronis Racing LLC
  • Age & Breeding: 5-year-old mare; Curlin – Evening Star
  • Season Form Figures: 111
  • Career Highlight: Winning the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, her sixth Grade 1

It seems somewhat churlish to look upon Stellar Wind's career and be critical. A winner of 9 of her 13 starts, six Grade 1 races and of over £1.5m in prize money, she is clearly a filly out of the top drawer and one that anybody would feel privileged to own. And with a little bit of luck, her race record could be all the more impressive.

On the biggest stages of all, Stellar Wind has not been able to get the job done, albeit with plenty of excuses. She was beaten as the favorite in the 2015 Kentucky Oaks with a horror trip, losing position early and coming very wide, running on well all things considered. In that year’s Distaff, she ran well at a price, just missing despite an impeded run in the stretch, a race all the more impressive as her barn is not known for shipping well outside of California. In last year’s Distaff, she missed the kick, spotting the field at least two lengths and giving away position once again to two supremely talented fillies in Songbird and the eventual winner Beholder.

Just looking at her race record without knowing those excuses, she might give the appearance of a flat-track bully, with five of her nine wins achieved at long odds-on, and another coming as a 6/5 shot. Furthermore, she has lost all three starts over the nine-furlong distance, and arrives at Del Mar without a run since July. Which begs the question: why does she lead the market for the Distaff?

Quite simply, she is faster than her foes. For all that many of her victories have come against inferiors, that will very likely be the case on November 3rd, too, as her win in last year's Zenyatta Stakes – when beating Beholder - towers over this field in terms of form and Beyer Speed Figures.

On paper, her claims are clearly excellent. However, at the current odds, and given she may shorten further, Stellar Wind is opposable. She’ll certainly face two major challengers in Forever Unbridled and Elate, either of whom could topple her on the square, let alone if she encounters any of the bad luck that’s found her in her previous biggest races.