Stellar Wind

Stellar Wind

Benoit Photo

Stellar Wind Works in Company for Distaff

Curlin filly drilled with fellow grade I winner Hard Aces.

How John Sadler described Stellar Wind's workmate Oct. 21 at Santa Anita Park says a little something about the feelings he has for his champion Curlin  filly.

Hronis Racing's three-time grade I winner started her work Friday morning with a target in front of her—stablemate and fellow grade I victor Hard Aces, who Sadler described as a "rabbit."

"He's the rabbit today," Sadler said of the hard-trying son of Hard Spun  the winner of the 2015 Gold Cup at Santa Anita (gr. I) and this year's Cougar II Handicap (gr. III).

Three lengths behind Hard Aces in the backstretch, Stellar Wind made up ground in the turn, moved alongside her stablemate on the outside in the stretch, and finished about a half-length in front at the wire. Under regular exercise rider Jose Contreras, she finished off five furlongs in 1:00 2/5, with a gallop out to six in 1:13 1/5, while Hard Aces, who is pointing to the Nov. 4 Marathon Stakes (gr. II), was credited with 1:01 flat for five-eighths.

"She went super today," Sadler said. "What I'm trying to do is stay on my course, like we have been. She has her routine and we're not going to do anything radically different. We're going to keep doing what we've been doing."

Sadler said her final work in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) will likely be a six-furlong drill, again in company.

As for the race, things will change a bit for the 4-year-old chestnut filly. In her last two victories—the Clement L. Hirsch (gr. I) and the Zenyatta (gr. I)—Stellar Wind has had a clear target, both tactically and based on quality of talent, with Beholder. Adding fellow champion and undefeated filly Songbird to the mix, along with the likes of I'm a Chatterbox and other talented females, could shake things up.

BALAN: Stellar Wind Edges Beholder Again in Zenyatta

"When they draw the race, it's going to be interesting to see what everybody wants to do," Sadler said. "Songbird has shown she can come off (the pace) a little bit, but she's been in front the majority of the time. They're fairly close in running style, too. It's not like you can say one is going to come from 10 lengths back."

Where Stellar Wind has gotten into some trouble in the past, however, is when she's dropped too far back early, but those runs were as a 3-year-old. In the 2015 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) she was 12th and 10 3/4 lengths back early before finishing fourth, and in last year's Distaff she was 9 1/4 lengths back in 10th early before rallying to just miss by a neck behind winner Stopchargingmaria.

"It's going to be extremely tactical," Sadler said. "As a 3-year-old, she got too far back in the Kentucky Oaks and didn't really have a smooth trip in the Breeders' Cup, but Victor (Espinoza) has rode her really well. He's very confident in her, and he's been her regular rider and he knows her so well."

Other Breeders' Cup workers Friday (all on the main track) included Lady Shipman (Turf Sprint, four furlongs in :48 2/5), Big Score (Juvenile Turf, four furlongs in :50 2/5), Champagne Room (Juvenile Fillies, six furlongs in 1:12 2/5), and Masochistic (Sprint, six furlongs in 1:11 3/5).

After watching from the grandstand, trainer Ron Ellis called Masochistic "the best work horse I've ever had."

During the drill, Masochistic broke off far behind a fellow worker from another barn, had several lengths to make up in the stretch, and still was able to blow by the horse and finish well in front at the wire.

"He might have been a sixteenth behind at the start," Ellis said. "I don't have anybody who can work with him, so that was kind of nice. I'd have to have Arrogate  work with him. It was nice that he had a little something to pay attention to."