Stellar Wind wins the 2016 Zenyatta Stakes

Stellar Wind wins the 2016 Zenyatta Stakes

Benoit Photo

Stellar Wind Edges Beholder Again in Zenyatta

Curlin filly replicated her win in the Clement L. Hirsch (gr. I).

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 (gr. I) Oct. 1 at Santa Anita Park

Video: Zenyatta S. (G1)

Just like the Clement L. Hirsch (gr. I) 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 3/4 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 (gr. I) over a run in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). 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.