A pair of Eclipse Award Champions, John Sadler’s Stellar Wind and Ian Kruljac’s Finest City, are set to meet Bob Baffert’s rising superstar Vale Dori in Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita.
The formidable threesome head a field of five fillies and mares in the race that was formerly run as the Vanity Mile and honors Spendthrift Farms’ four-time Eclipse Champion, Beholder.
A recent Grade 1 winner in Arkansas who was voted the Champion 3-Year-Old Filly in 2015, Stellar Wind will vie for favoritism with Vale Dori, a winner of six consecutive races (five graded). Finest City, the 2016 Champion Filly & Mare Sprinter who was a close second in a 7-furlong, Grade 1 race at Churchill Downs last out, will try to stretch her speed as she transitions back to two-turn competition.
#2 Stellar Wind – Last year was a tremendous one for Stellar Wind, but it ended on a sour note. Watching Beholder win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff had to sting for her connections, knowing that their horse defeated her fair and square twice earlier in the year. This is a new year, though, and last time out, Stellar Wind was victorious in her first start of the year, the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park. That race proved that she was back in good form, defeating Terra Promessa, an Oaklawn specialist. Expect an even better effort in this spot now that she is back at her home track, not to mention that this is her second race off of a layoff. She is the best horse in this race and possibly the division.
Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers
#1 Vale Dori – Since coming to the United States and placed under the care of trainer Bob Baffert, Vale Dori has won seven of nine starts, including SIX in a row coming into this contest. That’s the good news. The bad news is the fact that she’s avoided the division’s major stars during her six-race win streak, but she will not have that luxury here. In her only meeting with Stellar Wind, she was defeated by 12 lengths, but that was last year and in only her third United States start. She might not be able to turn the tables here, but she is the only logical option if you want to play against Stellar Wind.
#4 Finest City – Four starts back, she won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, and two races back, she didn’t fair too bad going two turns in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Handicap. In that race, Vale Dori defeated her rather easily, but with this race being a little shorter, she might have a better shot at turning the tables. The class is there, but can she defeat Stellar Wind? Not likely, but you have to respect her.
NONE – It’s a top-heavy race. If someone other than one of the Big 3 wins this race, I might close down the website and quit handicapping altogether.
#3 Show Stealer – She’s been defeated by Vale Dori four straight times this year. How can she turn the tables here? Last time out, she ran very poorly and finished eighth in the Santa Margarita. May be scratching.
#5 Faithfully – This is a huge jump up in class. It looks like she was entered to fill out the small field. Last time out, she returned off of a very long layoff to finish second in an allowance race. May be scratching.