Beholder—Stellar Wind, take two…

Profile Picture: Jen Caldwell

Jen Caldwell

July 28th, 2016

Saturday’s $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) at Del Mar will feature a rematch between two champions when Beholder and Stellar Wind square off for the second straight time.

This go around doesn’t look to play out any differently from when the duo first met in the Vanity Mile (G1) on June 4 at Santa Anita Park. That day Beholder and Stellar Wind found themselves both tracking Lost Bus through the opening half-mile, with Beholder just to the pacesetter’s outside and Stellar Wind running in behind while saving ground on the rail.

The pace was slow and jockey Gary Stevens had a snug hold on Beholder down the backstretch. Despite that Beholder still pulled her way forward to take command entering the turn while Finest City ranged up to her outside. Stellar Wind was being urged by jockey Victor Espinoza and was more than willing to unleash her rally while guided off the rail and to the outside of Lost Bus, who was losing ground.

Beholder had taken firm control of the race by this point, with Lost Bus, Stellar Wind and Finest City all lined up behind her. The Henny Hughes mare continued motoring in the stretch under a hand ride while Stellar Wind finally broke free from the others and took second while no match for her older rival.

Beholder only earned a 95 BRIS Speed rating for that effort, which didn’t appear to take anything out of the three-time Eclipse Award winner. Stellar Wind garnered a 93 BRIS Speed figure for running well in second in her first race back since a neck runner-up showing in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Keeneland.

The Richard Mandella-trained Beholder brings an eight-race win streak into the Hirsch, which she captured last year by seven lengths en route to an 8 1/4-length domination over the boys in the Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) next out. The six-year-old mare is following the same course this season and a showdown is in the works with Horse of the Year California Chrome if both continue to progress toward that 1 1/4-mile affair on August 20.

Stellar Wind is no stranger to winning at Del Mar either, taking the Torrey Pines Stakes (G3) by 4 1/4 lengths last year. The John Sadler pupil also captured the Santa Anita Oaks (G1), Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) and Summertime Oaks (G2) while suffering her only off-the-board run when fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). That was enough for the chestnut daughter of Curlin to be honored as the 2015 champion three-year-old filly.

Beholder and Stellar Wind will each reunite with their respective regular riders, Stevens and Espinoza, in Saturday’s Hirsch, which drew three other runners.

Beholder stablemate Off the Road is a Brazilian champion with a pair of Group 1 scores in her native country on her record. She’s competed on turf in four of her five stateside starts, but that dirt effort came as a second in the off-the-turf Las Cienegas Stakes (G3) in April. The Quick Road mare may have found a new home on the main track. Martin Pedroza has the call.

French-bred Divina Comedia finished last of five in the Vanity Mile before earning her first stakes victory in the Southern Truce Stakes at Santa Anita last out on July 3. Those have been her only two black-type tries since coming to the United States, and she keeps Joe Talamo in the irons.

The Dream finishes out the Hirsch field for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The four-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy is making her U.S. debut in this spot under Martin Garcia, and is a champion and two-time Group 1 winner in her native Chile.

Beholder photo courtesy of Benoit Photos