Distaff tops opening day of Breeders' Cup
DEL MAR, California (AP):
Breeders' Cup weekend kicks off with four stakes Friday, topped by the $2 million Distaff, as Del Mar hosts the season-ending championships for the first time.
Today is the warm-up for tomorrow when the seaside resort track presents nine more, culminating with the $6 million Classic where defending winner Arrogate tops a quartet from Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert aiming to derail Gun Runner, the beast of East Coast racing.
There were plenty of standout storylines yesterday, especially in the Distaff where Stellar Wind, the 5-2 favourite, takes a third and final crack at the race while John Sadler, her trainer, looks to end his 0-for-39 Breeders' Cup drought.
Both horse and conditioner could use a better turn in their BC racing fortunes.
Stellar Wind, a 5-year-old mare heading off to retirement after this race, suffered a hard-luck loss by only a neck after an extremely wide trip in her first Distaff try in 2015.
Last year was a disaster from the start when she broke poorly from the starting gate. She regrouped to be fourth to Beholder, a mare she had beaten in consecutive stakes leading up to the Breeders' Cup.
"I was crushed," Sadler said. "She was standing very well in the gate. It wasn't like she was fractious. When they opened the gate, she just took half a step backward. Two seconds later she probably would have been standing square. The timing was horrible."
This season has gone perfectly for Stellar Wind. She is 3 for 3, all Grade 1 victories. And she has a possible home-field advantage, having won all three races at Del Mar.