Stellar Wind kicks off the summer at Santa Anita Park

Profile Picture: Jen Caldwell

Jen Caldwell

June 19th, 2015

Saturday’s Summertime Oaks (G2) was transferred to Santa Anita Park and renamed after previously being run at the now-defunct Hollywood Park as the Hollywood Oaks.

But all that’s in the past.

What’s in the present is the fact that top three-year-old filly Stellar Wind (Curlin) is making her first start in the 1 1/16-mile contest since a troubled-trip fourth in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Stellar Wind’s running description on the Oaks chart – steadied a bit early, leveled into stride between rivals, moved up through second turn, swung nine wide entering the lane and improved position – doesn’t even begin to describe the trouble the chestnut miss endured.

Appearing to bump the gate a bit when the doors opened, Stellar Wind began angling over toward the inside from her outside post but was a little too eager, forcing jockey Victor Espinoza to take her up when rivals on the outside blocked her in.

The sophomore filly looked more like a gazelle than a Thoroughbred heading into the first turn, displaying a long, hopping stride near the rear of the field that propelled her about four wide. She stayed out of trouble on the outside down the backstretch.

Espinoza began getting after Stellar Wind heading into the final turn at Churchill Downs, and the filly responded with a nice turn of hoof. Unfortunately, after coming out a bit, she was also forced to circle the entire field about nine wide entering the stretch.

Nobody was catching Lovely Maria (Majesticperfection) up front, but Stellar Wind closed nicely to take fourth.

The John Sadler pupil won’t be breaking from the 12 post but did draw the 9 stall with Fantastic Style (Harlan’s Holiday) to her outside in the 10-filly Summertime Oaks. That miss also happens to be one of Stellar Wind’s main foes in the Summertime Oaks after recording a 3 1/4-length victory in the Angel’s Flight S. on May 16 at Santa Anita and running third at Keeneland in the Beaumont S. (G2) on April 12, both at seven furlongs.

Second in the Angel’s Flight was the re-opposing Tara’s Tango (Unbridled’s Song), who also finished second in the 6 1/2-furlong Santa Paula to open her three-year-old campaign on April 5 after setting a new track record at Del Mar last year when taking her maiden debut.

That pair will join Scat Means Go (Scat Daddy), placed in the Eight Belles S. (G3) and Sunland Park Oaks in her past two, as well as Sheer Pleasure (Birdonthewire), a 7 1/4-length romper in the Melair S. last out, at trying to upset Stellar Wind’s return bid.

Of the quartet, Sheer Pleasure and Fantastic Style look to have the best chance, and the BRIS Speed numbers, to challenge. However, if Stellar Wind runs anywhere near her Santa Anita Oaks (G1)-winning form, everyone else will just have to settle for fighting it out for second.

Photo: Benoit Photos