Stellar Wind Stuns Beholder in Clement L. Hirsch Stakes
Stellar Wind Stuns Beholder in Clement L. Hirsch Stakes: In a stunning upset, Hronis Racing’s Stellar Wind, the Eclipse Award winner as champion three-year-old filly of 2015, outran 1-9 favored Beholder in the stretch to win the featured $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes Saturday at Del Mar.
Beholder, a three-time Eclipse Award champion and widely considered one of the truly outstanding female runners of recent years, suffered her first defeat in more than two years as Stellar Wind and jockey Victor Espinoza stalked their vaunted rival from the start of the mile and one-sixteenth race, never allowing Beholder and her Hall of Fame pilot Gary Stevens to get more than a length away.
Turning into the stretch, Espinoza asked Stellar Wind to hook Beholder and the daughter of Curlin responded gamely to take a short advantage which she never relinquished to the wire, finishing a half-length in front in 1:41.24 despite the best efforts of Beholder to rerally.
Beholder, the six-year-old mare by Henny Hughes, was seeking her ninth consecutive triumph, was defending champion in the Hirsch and last summer became the first distaffer to win the Grade I $2 million TVG Pacific Classic, running the fastest mile and one-quarter on the dirt by a female in racing history when she was timed in 1:59.77.
A distant third in the field of five older fillies and mares was Divina Comedia, almost ten lengths behind Beholder and eleven and one-quarter lengths ahead of fourth-place Off The Road. The Dream was fifth and last.
Stellar Wind, providing trainer John Sadler with a significant victory on the occasion of his 60th birthday, had lost to Beholder by one and one-half lengths in their previous encounter, the Vanity Mile, at Santa Anita June 4.
Beholder had not lost since finishing fourth, beaten one length in the Grade I Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park on June 7, 2014. Included among her streak were five Grade I successes.
Stellar Wind went postward the 9-2 second choice and paid $11, $2.20 and $2.10 after recording her sixth win in ten starts. First money of $180,000 increased her earnings to $1,173,200. Beholder, who carried highweight of 123 pounds to 121 on the winner, returned $2.10 and $2.10, while Divina Comedia paid $2.60. Because of strong wagering on Beholder, there was a minus place pool of $34,260 and a minus show pool of $195,174.
The Clement L. Hirsch Stakes is a “Win and You’re In” event, guaranteeing the winner an automatic berth in the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.
There were no perfect tickets in Saturday’s Pick Six so Sunday’s program will feature a Pick Six carryover of $149,543. Post time for the first of nine races is 2 p.m.
Clement L. Hirsch 2016 Replay: