Edited Press Release

Anticipation is gaining momentum hour-by-hour for the showdown between champions Beholder and Stellar Wind in next Saturday’s $400,000 Vanity Mile (G1).

Stellar Wind, honored as the champion three-year-old filly of 2015 at the Eclipse Award ceremony in January, would be making her first start since finishing second by a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Keeneland last October 30.

The four-year-old daughter of Curlin had regular rider Victor Espinoza in the saddle Saturday morning as she worked five furlongs in :59.60 over Santa Anita Park’s fast main track in company with stablemate Too Fast to Pass was timed in :59.80.

“She went good,” Espinoza said of Stellar Wind, whom he has ridden six straight times, all stakes, three of them Grade 1’s, since owners Kosta and Peter Hronis purchased the chestnut filly for John Sadler to train over a year ago.

“She worked in company and I let her stretch her legs down the lane. It’s been a while since she raced, but she’s ready.

“Now she has to against The Queen (Beholder). It should be fun.”

“She’s right on point. She hasn’t missed a beat,” clocker Toby Turrell added about Stellar Wind. “Her works have been long, fast and she’s finishing good.”

Stellar Wind has never lost at Santa Anita, winning all three of her starts including the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) last April 4.

Three-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder, winner of 12 of 13 races at Santa Anita and 16 of 21 overall, eyes her eighth straight victory for Richard Mandella, who trains the six-year-old mare for owner B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm.

“She’s doing great, couldn’t be better,” Mandella said of Beholder Saturday morning in the company of Hughes, who will be on hand for the Vanity.

Asked tongue-in-cheek if he would take a walkover in the race, Mandella quipped, “That’s one race I could be confident about.”

The Vanity is expected to draw a short field headed by the Big Two. Other entrants could include Human Distaff (G1) romper Taris, Santa Monica (G2) heroine Lost Bus, dual listed-placed Divina Comedia and Moyo Honey.

Stellar Wind and Beholder photos courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography