Stellar Wind Back In Fine Form
Former champion filly Stellar Wind kicked off her five-year-old campaign with another G1 victory in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park on April 14.
Running for the first time since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last November, Stellar Wind wore down a stubborn rival in course specialist Terra Promessa to claim the $600,000 contest by a length and a quarter.’
Jockey Victor Espinoza had to give the John Sadler-trained Stellar Wind a few cracks of the whip to overcome a front-running opponent who got an easy lead.
“I think she's better than before," said Espinoza.
"I always believed in her, as she's gotten older she's more mature, more professional.
“It seems this year she's coming back great and maybe even a little better than last year."
Stellar Wind was narrowly beaten into second in the Breeders' Cup Distaff in 2015 and that race is again her ultimate goal.
"I really do want her to run in the Breeders' Cup and get her a win," Espinoza said.
"She's had a little bit of bad luck the last two times. The first time she got carried a little wide and last time she missed the break and that was it.
“Hopefully this will be her year."
Friday’s Keeneland meeting featured the G1 Maker's Mile in turf with the Todd Pletcher-trained four-year-old American Patriot (Javier Castellano) rallying late to score by a neck from Heart To Heart, who was finishing runner-up for the second year in succession.
"I rode with a lot of patience, a lot of confidence," said Castellano. "The way he finished was tremendous. I really like this horse."
The victory gave Pletcher his 51st stakes win at Keeneland, breaking the record held by D Wayne Lukas.