04/02/2015 11:46AM

Sadler high on Stellar Wind in Santa Anita Oaks

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Stellar Wind is looking for her third straight win in the Santa Anita Oaks on Saturday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Stellar Wind was an unheralded shipper from Laurel Park when she made her Santa Anita debut in late February. The last-out maiden winner snuck up on the locals, posted a decisive Grade 3 victory, and shot straight to the head of the class.

On Saturday at Santa Anita, Stellar Wind’s cover is blown. While her odds will be lower than the 7-1 she started at in the Santa Ysabel Stakes, trainer John Sadler expects the improving filly to deliver another top effort as one of the favorites in the Grade 1, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks, race 7 on the 11-race card.

“She’s had beautiful spacing with no blips,” Sadler said. “She’s had three works and is ready to go over there and see if she can keep improving. I expect her to.”

Eight entered the 1 1/16-mile Oaks, including the 2-for-2 Luminance, upset candidate Glory, stakes winner Light the City, Wild At Heart, and three grass fillies – Curlin’s Fox, Singing Kitty, and She’s a Big Winner.

KEY CONTENDERS

Stellar Wind (Last 3 Beyers: 91-86-55)

◗ Stellar Wind’s trainer looks forward to stretching out the Curlin filly. “I love her as the distances get longer,” Sadler said. “Her strength is going to be her ability to go the big distance.” Stellar Wind has turned out to be an astute purchase by Hronis Racing, which bought her privately after she won her second start at Laurel.

◗ In winning the Santa Ysabel by 2 3/4 lengths with a wide trip, Stellar Wind earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure, tops in this field. “She really stretches; she’s just got a tremendous stride on her,” Sadler said. Stellar Wind has won two of three.

Luminance (Last 2 Beyers: 81-87)

◗ Luminance has been highly regarded since last spring. Favored at 1-2 in her July debut at Del Mar, she won that five-furlong race by 2 1/2 lengths. That was the extent of her campaign; she subsequently was off seven months.

◗ She won her recent comeback the hard way. Off slowly, she raced wide and wore down a racing-fit filly while stretching out to two turns. Luminance “was not ready for that,” trainer Bob Baffert said. That she won anyway underscores her potential.

Glory (Last 3 Beyers: 84-85-86)

◗ Jerry Hollendorfer trains Glory, who will be ridden for the first time by Rafael Bejarano. The filly reportedly outworked stakes winner Achiever’s Legacy in a six-furlong drill March 28.

◗ Glory, 1 for 4, finished third in the Santa Ysabel, her third start in six weeks. Since then, she has had a five-week respite and is expected to deliver the best race of her career.

Curlin’s Fox (Last 2 Beyers: 80-77)

◗ The runner-up finish by Curlin’s Fox in a turf stakes last out was better than it looks. The pace was slow, she closed ground to miss by only 1 1/2 lengths, and she bled. The Oaks will be her first start on dirt after running twice on turf.

◗ Due to the bleeding episode, trainer Carla Gaines said she “had to back off a little bit, take it easy on the works. You kind of have to handle them with kid gloves.” Curlin’s Fox, by Curlin, was produced by graded stakes winner Foxysox, who never tried dirt.