Favored Stellar Wind to make season debut in G1 Apple Blossom
by Frank Vespe
Virginia-bred superstar Stellar Wind — named Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred/The Racing Biz Top Midlantic-bred 0f 2015 and a near-miss second last year after defeating Beholder twice in 2016 — will start her 2017 campaign Friday in the Grade 1, $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.
The speedster, second a neck in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Distaff, won a pair of Grade 1 races last year. She also was second, to Beholder, in the Grade 1 Vanity Mile, and fourth behind that rival in the Distaff after a tough trip. She has not raced since last year’s Breeders’ Cup but has recorded a steady series of works for trainer John Sadler.
The daughter of Curlin, bred in the Old Dominion by Keswick Stables and Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, will have regular pilot Victor Espinoza in the irons as she goes in search of a win that would be the eighth win of her career and push her earnings past the $1.5 million mark.
She’s 3-5 on the morning line and, at 122 pounds, will carry at least four pounds more than her rivals — but is a much less overwhelming favorite than you might expect.
Terra Promessa is 8-5 on the morning line and will make her fourth start of the season — all over the Oaklawn strip. She won her first two starts of the year, including the Grade 3 Bayakoa, in front-running fashion. But in the Grade 2 Azeri last out, she never did make the lead and faded from the scene late to be fifth as the 3-10 favorite. The Steve Asmussen trainee will have Jose Ortiz in the irons.
Terra Promessa’s faltering in the Azeri turned out to be Streamline’s gain. The daughter of Straight Line, an Illinois-bred trained by Brian Williamson, recorded a 12-1 upset that day and is 8-1 on the morning line here. She finished second — at 19-1 odds — in this race a year ago, has never been worse than third in seven local starts, and has finished out of the money just once in 17 career tilts. Chris Landeros will ride.
A trio of longshots — Durango (30-1), Divine Elegance (30-1), and Azeri show horse Tiger Moth (15-1) — round out the field.