For the second time in three years, Stellar Wind has been chosen as the top horse bred in the mid-Atlantic region in the final Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz Top Midlantic-bred Poll.
One year after narrowly losing out to Maryland-bred Cathryn Sophia for Top Midlantic-bred honors, Stellar Wind, a Virginia-bred, edged Mor Spirit to take the 2017 laurels.
The Mid-Atlanic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz Top Midlantic-bred Poll is comprised of nearly 30 media members and other participants in mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred racing. The top seven horses combined to win six Grade 1 events among their 16 graded victories.
"Some of the most exciting runners in the country this year were Midlantic-breds," said The Racing Biz founder and publisher Frank Vespe. "It was a thrill for regional racing fans to see so many runners of such quality thriving in major races around the country."
During the season, Stellar Wind won three of four starts, all in Grade 1 company. Among her wins were the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn in April, the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita in June, and the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar in July. She concluded her season with a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Distaff.
For her career, Stellar Wind has won 10 of 16 career starts, and the $800,000 in earnings she piled up in 2017 brought her career mark to more than $2.2 million.
Stellar Wind was bred in Virginia by Peggy Augustus' Keswick Stables & Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC. She is a daughter of Curlin out of the winning Malibu Moon mare Evening Star.
Sold twice as a yearling, she was purchased the second time, for $86,000, by Barbara Houck at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearling sale. She began her career in Houck's colors, with Donald Barr training her at Laurel Park. She broke her maiden - by nearly nine lengths - in her second start and was sold privately to Hronis Racing, LLC, for whom she campaigned through the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons, going on to win nine graded races, six of them Grade 1 events. All of that work came under the tutelage of trainer John Sadler.
She earned Top Midlantic-bred honors in 2015 following a season in which she won four graded events, including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, and earned an Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly. That year she finished a near-miss second in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, which would turn out to be the best of her three results in that event.
Following her 2017 campaign, Hronis Racing sold her at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale for a staggering $6 million. But plans to breed her are - temporarily - on hold. Coolmore, which bought her, has sent her to trainer Chad Brown's Palm Meadows operation, where he is prepping her for the $16 million Pegasus World Cup later in January at Gulfstream Park.
"Stellar Wind has been one of the most effective and consistent Midlantic-bred runners of recent vintage," said Cricket Goodall, executive director of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, which publishes Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. "With plenty of tough company, she has once again earned the nod as the region's best."
The remainder of the top seven are:
• Mor Spirit (PA), winner of the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap;
• Unique Bella (PA), winner of five graded stakes, including the Grade 1 La Brea;
• Irish War Cry (NJ), winner of two Grade 2 events, including the Wood Memorial;
• Finest City (PA), a Grade 2 winner in 2017 who also placed in four other graded events;
• Tom's Ready (PA), a Grade 3 winner and Grade 1-placed in 2017; and
• Green Gratto (NJ), whose two graded wins for the year included the Grade 1 Carter Handicap.