Breeders' Cup

Breeders’ Cup Distaff Preview: Stellar Wind Set for Third Breeders’ Cup Try

Zoe Metz Photography

The connections of Stellar Wind are hoping that the third time will be the charm for this 5-year-old mare who has had zero luck at the Breeders’ Cup. In 2015, she came up just short in the Distaff to Stopcharingmaria, finishing second by a neck. Last year, she stumbled early out of the gate and could never make much of a rally as Beholder went on to victory. What made matters worse for Stellar Wind last year was the fact that she had beaten Beholder twice leading up to that race. The talent is there, but can she finally put it all together in what will be her final career start?

One thing is for sure, the group of 3-year-old fillies entered in this race will not make it easy on Stellar Wind. Leading the charge is Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman for trainer Bob Baffert. Abel Tasman has won three Grade 1 events this year, and as of now, she’s the leader in the clubhouse for 3-Year-Old Filly of the Year honors.

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However, the late-developing Elate could be one that Stellar Wind should be most worried about. After disappointing on the Kentucky Oaks trail, Elate has blossomed into a star. Over the summer, she was a very close second to Abel Tasman in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks, then went on to win the Grade 1 Alabama and the Grade 1 Beldame in stylish fashion. She could be the right horse at the right time, and a win in this race could eventually make her the top 3-year-old filly in the country.

Older mare Forever Unbridled could teach these rising stars a lesson, as the last time she raced, she was able to defeat the great Songbird. She’s only started twice this year, but both races were wins, and she should be rested and ready to roll at the Breeders’ Cup. If the pace is hot up front, she’ll have a big chance to run them all down late.

The Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff will go off as race 9 on a fantastic card on Day One of the Breeders’ Cup, Friday, November 3rd. Post time of the race is 4:35 PM PST.

Top Choice

#2 Stellar Wind – A perfect three-for-three this year, all in Grade 1s, her main competition all year long has been Vale Dori, who isn’t entered in this race. She’ll look for redemption in her final career start, as a Breeders’ Cup win is the only thing missing on her resume. It is truly now or never for her here, as this will be her last career race. It would be a fitting ending to an outstanding career if she could finally get over her “Breeders’ Cup demons” and take home the Distaff.

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#5 Elate – After struggling earlier in the year to live up to the hype created by her maiden-breaking score as a 2-year-old, she rounded into form over the summer at Saratoga and comes into this one off of Grade 1 scores in the Alabama and the Beldame. This is a dangerous up-and-coming filly with a great trainer in Bill Mott. When Mott has a target race in mind, his horses usually show up firing on all cylinders. This could be her third win in a row and would put her on top of the 3-year-old filly division.  

#7 Paradise Woods – This is the real wild card of the entire race. She entered the Kentucky Oaks as the favorite, but things did not go well. After a long layoff, she’s finally back in form and looks to be dangerous. The main thing that she presents is a matchup problem. She’s so fast that if you go with her on the front end, you’ll burn up in a speed duel, similar to the Kentucky Oaks. However, if you leave her alone on the lead, you likely won’t catch her. How the other horses and jockeys in the race approach her up front will be fascinating. Her early speed will be dangerous at a track like Del Mar.

#4 Abel Tasman – She’s had an awesome 3-year-old season, including Grade 1 scores in the Kentucky Oaks, the Acorn, and the Coaching Club American Oaks. She lost her last start, the Grade 1 Cotillion, but has been working well leading up to this race. With Baffert on her side, she’s never one to throw out. Some may think that she’s tailing off just a bit, but the spacing between this race and her last one should’ve given her a little time to recover. Expect a solid performance.

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Exotic Plays

#6 Forever Unbridled – She’s lightly-raced this year but has been great in both of her starts. Most recently, she defeated Songbird in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga, a big mark on her resume. It’s going to depend on the pace for her, as she’ll drop towards the back of the pack and make one run. Her running style makes her the perfect underneath play, but I question if she’ll be able to run them ALL down in the end. Key her in the second and third spots.

Party Crashers

#1 Champagne Room – Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner won her prep race easily in the Remington Park Oaks and has a (3) 1-1-1 career record at Del Mar. She’s definitely the wild card of the field, having been so lightly-raced this year. Her Remington Park Oaks score was very impressive, but this will be a giant step up in class. Her early speed makes her very dangerous over a track that tends to favor those that are up front early. If she can get a lucky trip from the rail, then she can pull off an upset.

Throw Outs

#8 Romantic Vision – She’s won two races in a row, including the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland in her last start, and certainly comes into the Breeders’ Cup as the hot horse, but this will be a very tough class test for her. She must prove that she can step up her game.

#3 Mopotism – She has just one win this year, which came in a listed stakes at Sunland Park. Looking like the only horse in the field that’s overmatched, she’ll have to improve several lengths in order to pick up a win.

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