2015 Virginia-bred Horse of the Year Stellar Wind will make her 2016 debut tomorrow (Saturday) at Santa Anita and face 1-5 heavy favorite Beholder in the Grade I, $400,000 Vanity Stakes which in its 75 running, will be contested at the one mile distance for the first time. The Paulick Report used the headline “Clash of the Titans” to preview this matchup.
Bred by Peggy Augustus’s Keswick Stables and Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, Stellar Wind was also the 2015 Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s top three year old filly. The 4 year old daughter of Curlin won four graded stakes last year and most recently, lost by a neck to Stopchargingmaria in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Out of the Malibu Moon mare Evening Star, Stellar Wind won three of those graded stakes at Santa Anita — the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel, Grade 2 Summertime Oaks and Grade I Santa Anita Oaks. Stellar Wind is trained by John Sadler, will be ridden by Victor Espinoza and enters the stakes with a bankroll of $913,200.
Three time Eclipse Award winning Beholder is nothing short of stellar at Santa Anita having won 12 of 13 times there. Overall, the 6 year old daughter of Henny Hughes is 16 for 21 and has amassed $4,496,000 in earnings. Gary Stevens will guide Beholder, who enters the race with seven straight wins including triumphs in the Grade I Pacific Classic and Zenyatta Stakes, which she has won three straight years.