01/05/2018 1:20PM

2017 Eclipse Awards: Stellar Wind


The 2017 season was icing on the cake for Stellar Wind, already an Eclipse Award and multiple Grade 1 winner. As she entered her 5-year-old season, Stellar Wind was made.

“Her value was locked in,” trainer John Sadler said. “[2017] was a chance for us to enjoy her, running in top-class races. It was a good season. It didn’t end the way we wanted, but that’s horse racing.”

Plans for 2017 called for Stellar Wind to campaign sparingly in pursuit of two objectives: another Eclipse Award and a shot at the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff in her third and final attempt. Mission almost accomplished.

Stellar Wind fell short in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, an uncharacteristic last-place finish, but three Grade 1 victories the first part of 2017 were enough for her to be named a finalist for a second straight year as outstanding older dirt female.

A championship would not be new for Stellar Wind, the Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old filly in 2015 for Sadler and owners Kosta and Pete Hronis. What would be new for the mare and jockey Victor Espinoza in 2017 would be a fair shot in the Distaff following unlucky trips in 2015 and 2016.

In the early part of 2017, everything went right for Stellar Wind, who went on the road for her first start of the season.

Stellar Wind shipped from Santa Anita to Oaklawn Park for the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap. She was odds-on making her first start in more than five months. Stellar Wind won by 1 1/4 lengths, her fourth Grade 1. It was an ideal comeback, after which Stellar Wind was aimed at the Grade 1 Beholder Mile in June at Santa Anita.

It was not an easy race. Her rival Vale Dori was on a six-race win streak. Stellar Wind and Vale Dori hooked up at the head of the lane, and raced head and head to the wire. Stellar Wind won by a neck, her fifth Grade 1.

Stellar Wind, a light-bodied mare who fired fresh, would make only one more start prior to the Distaff. In July at Del Mar, she met Vale Dori again in the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch.

Vale Dori put up a fight, again. Stellar Wind pushed her back, again, and won by a neck with a 103 Beyer, highest of her career. The unbeaten season by Stellar Wind had only one final chapter.

But the Distaff was never kind to Stellar Wind. She was away poorly, stuck inside on the slow part of the track, and retreated. Days later, at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, Stellar Wind was sold for $6 million.

Stellar Wind, bred by Keswick Stables and Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, is the all-time leading female earner sired by Curlin, and is out of the Malibu Moon mare Evening Star. She was bought for $86,000 out of the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic September yearling sale, and was sold to Hronis Racing after her second start. As of early January, Stellar Wind had won 10 races and $2,253,200 from 16 starts. She is now with trainer Chad Brown and scheduled to start in the $16 million Pegasus World Cup.