Expecting to read the praises of the gritty win by Stardom Bound in the SA Oaks, I was surprised, and rather disappointed, to instead see it being framed in disappointment. So obsessed with the Kentucky Derby are we, that a race which I found to be easily amongst the most exhilarating of the year, was rather dismissively referred to by Jay Privman in the Form as a desperate nose win over a moderate group that left her connections soberly realistic about what could come next.
Before the race, the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 4, against males, was considered a strong possibility. Now...In the LA Times, Bill Dwyre labeled Stardom Bound's victory as a "rocky win," and called it "dicey."
Dicey? This filly lagged behind a moderate pace, made her usual sweep around the final turn; this time conceding a tremendous amount of ground - four wide for a good portion of the turn, and a full seven wide turning for home. Whatsmore, she was carried two paths further outside by a drifting filly in deep stretch. Having lost her forward momentum if for just an instant, Stardom Bound appeared hopelessly beaten at that point. But she showed the class of a true champ, coming on again to surge to a courageous win, in a final sixteenth of 5.85 seconds.
Yes, Privman is factually correct to say that it was a "desperate nose win over a moderate group." Yet, if he didn't have the Derby in mind, I bet he would have framed it in a far more positive way. Personally, this performance will not cause me to move this filly down a single notch in my Derby rankings. But, forgetting that race for a moment if we may, it's truly sad and unfortunate if we are unable to fully appreciate an effort like this simply for what it was - a superb display of consistency, speed, courage and determination by a fantastic filly who, Derby or no Derby, deserves to rank as one of the sport's very few true stars.