Beholder – Two-time Breeders’ Cup champion and three-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder went to the track at 7 a.m. and galloped 1 1/2m over the main track under regular exercise rider Janeen Painter.
Winning the Distaff at 3 is one of her Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella’s favorite memories of the champion 6yo mare.
“We have had a lot of great memories with her,” Mandella said. “Surprising us to be ready for the Breeders’ Cup at 2, winning the Distaff at 3, still winning at 6; so many great memories to pick from.”
Corona Del Inca – Argentine import Corona Del Inca went to the main track at 7:45 a.m. and galloped leisurely 1 1/2m with jockey Pablo Falero, who is expected to be aboard the 5yo daughter of Luhuk in the Distaff.
Curalina – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Curalina galloped 1 1/4m Wednesday morning at Santa Anita in preparation for a start in Friday’s Distaff.
“She had a very strong gallop. She seems very happy with herself,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.
Curalina, a Grade 1 winner at the Distaff distance of 1 1/8 miles, is scheduled to take on undefeated Songbird, three-time Eclipse champion Beholder and multiple Grade 1 winner Stellar Wind.
“You’ve got horses with similar running styles in there. I think she’s versatile enough to get into a good stalking position and get into a good rhythm and take it from there,” Pletcher said.
Forever Unbridled – Charles Fipke’s homebred filly Forever Unbridled galloped a mile early Wednesday, leaving Barn 59 at 5:30 a.m. and impressing trainer Dallas Stewart in the process.
“It was an ideal gallop,” Stewart said. “She has had another good morning.”
I’m a Chatterbox – Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s Spinster winner I’m a Chatterbox had another good morning at Santa Anita as she prepares for her second try in the Distaff. Last year, she finished eighth after a troubled trip.
Following a similar routine to Tuesday, I’m a Chatterbox, with trainer Larry Jones aboard, galloped 5/8ths of a mile and then walked through the paddock before returning to her temporary home in barn 59.
“She’s doing good,” Jones said. “The work (a bullet 5f in 59 Saturday at Keeneland) seemed to satisfy her. She was happy with what we did.”
Land Over Sea – Land Over Sea was out Wednesday morning for a 1 3/4m gallop for Leandro Moro, assistant to trainer Doug O’Neill. Following the exercise, the daughter of Bellamy Road schooled in the paddock.
Songbird – Maintenance mode continued for Breeders’ Cup distaff favorite Songbird with an easy 1 1/2m gallop Wednesday morning under Edgar Rodriguez. The dark bay filly, with the distinctive white stripe down her nose, took to the main Santa Anita oval at 7 a.m., a bit later than usual, owing to a schooling session in the paddock in which she’ll participate as part of her pre-race ramp up.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, back on scene Wednesday following a visit to his Northern California string of runners, reported everything was going smoothly for the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro.
“As a trainer, you get lucky to have a filly like this, so you’ve just got to take it in stride and enjoy while you can,” he said. “When we received her, she was thought to be special and I think she’s proven that with her consistency.”
Songbird will have regular rider Hall of Famer Mike Smith aboard Friday. Smith, who is the winningest rider in the Breeders’ Cup history with 22 wins, has had the privilege of riding many great mares including Horses of the Year Azeri and the great Zenyatta, a two-time Breeders’ Cup winner.
“I’ve been very blessed to have ridden so many great horses during my career,” Smith said. “No question, Songbird is such a special filly. So was Zenyatta. It’s always difficult – and sometimes unfair -to make comparisons between them. But, I can say that for a horse at her age, Songbird has the fastest cruising speed of any of them.”
Asked if as a jockey it’s more fun to play “catch me if you can” on a speedy filly like Songbird or try to “mow them down from behind” like Zenyatta, Smith smiled and said, “It’s like comparing apples and oranges – just as long as you get the bowl of fruit!”
Stellar Wind – The Clement Hirsch and Zenyatta Stakes winner Stellar Wind went through her usual morning ritual of jogging and going to the paddock early Wednesday morning.
With the sun yet to rise and a set ready to head for the track, trainer John Sadler reflected on last year’s controversial neck loss to Stopchargingmaria in the Distaff.
“There was a long inquiry and we thought we were going to get put up to win,” Sadler said. “She got floated out and bumped twice in the stretch. We didn’t get the call. One of those things. It didn’t take long to get over it.
“I think it helped her win the Eclipse Award because all the writers were there and could see she was the best horse in the race, a 3-year-old against older. She ran great, we were thrilled with the race, just didn’t get the ‘W.'”