Some of the West Coast's brightest equine stars from last year are getting back into the swing of things at Santa Anita Park.
With champion Songbird setting the standard in her first start of 2016, a romp in the Las Virgenes (gr. II) Feb. 6, and fellow Eclipse Award winner Nyquist set to make his 3-year-old debut Feb. 15 in the San Vicente (gr. II), the other two champions on the grounds are just gearing up.
BALAN: Songbird Untouchable in Las Virgenes
Potential distaff-division rivals Beholder and Stellar Wind are both nearing their first timed workouts of the year.
Spendthrift Farm's Beholder, the champion older mare of 2015, should have her first drill "in about two weeks," according to Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. For Hronis Racing's Stellar Wind, trainer John Sadler said the champion 3-year-old filly will likely return to breezing in March, with an eye on a return to racing in April.
"She didn't need to run early in the year, because we're looking toward the fall," Sadler said of his Curlin filly. "With the Breeders' Cup back here again, you can kinda work backward from there—the Vanity (gr. I), the Clement L. Hirsch (gr. I), the Zenyatta (gr. I). With stakes horses, it's easier to plan than with lesser horses, because you know when all the races are."
Also slowly making progress is Arnold Zetcher's Firing Line. Trainer Simon Callaghan said the Line of David colt, who last raced to a seventh-place finish in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), will be on the main track at Santa Anita for the first time this year Feb. 14. He'll jog under an exercise rider.