The one-mile Ruffian for older fillies and mares was the feature race Sunday at Belmont and drew a field of five that included grade 1-placed Faypien and Mother Goose Stakes (G2) winner Unchained Melody. With those two the co-second choices in the betting, Pacific Wind was made the 3-2 favorite off an 8 1/4-length score at Keeneland in her season debut for trainer Chad Brown.
In the Ruffian, the 4-year-old daughter of Curlin sat behind the pacesetters midpack as Faypien led the field through a quarter in :23.04 and a half-mile in :46.39, with Unchained Melody keeping the pressure on to her outside. Unchained Melody put a head in front briefly coming off the turn, but it was Highway Star who gained the lead to run six furlongs in 1:10.60.
While Highway Star looked to maintain the lead, Pacific Wind got to the front in deep stretch to prevail in a final time of 1:36.22.
"I broke good and got a nice trip. I waited there, just following horses. When I got in the clear, I asked her and she took off," said winning rider Irad Ortiz Jr. "I really like her. Chad has done a great job with her so far. She enjoys it. She's doing really good."
The winner paid $5.00, $3.40, and $2.40, and runner-up Highway Star returned $5.90 and $3.20. Tequilita rallied from last to return $2.90 to show. Faypien and Unchained Melody completed the order of finish.
"She's really been training well, and we were cautiously optimistic that she could step up in a race of this caliber," Brown said. "Cutting back to one turn was a little bit of a concern. She had run well in a two-turn mile in Keeneland. But she got a favorable setup in front of her. She showed her versatility running at one turn today. She showed a real good closing kick. All-around, she's a really nice filly."
Owned by Sharon Alesia, Ciaglia Racing, Peter Brant, and Dominic Savides, Pacific Wind brought her record to 4-1-2 from 9 starts and boosted her earnings to $312,545.
As a 3-year-old, Pacific Wind broke her maiden by 4 1/2 lengths on debut in March of 2017 going a mile on the Santa Anita Park turf before finishing third in both the Senorita Stakes (G3T) and the Honeymoon Stakes (G2T) there. After placing second in a Del Mar optional-claiming allowance race, she finished off the board in the Del Mar Oaks Presented by The Jockey Club (G1T).
Moved to the dirt for her last two races of the year, she showed promise, winning a Santa Anita optional-claiming allowance race by 1 3/4 lengths and then finishing fifth behind winner Majestic Heat and runner-up Champagne Room in the 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa Stakes (G2) at Los Alamitos Race Course in December.
Bred by Sarah Farish in Kentucky, Pacific Wind is out of the Dixieland Band mare Shag and was a $200,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by Joe Ciaglia from the Lane's End consignment.