Sky Full of Stars Gamely Prevails in T. Von Zastrow Stutenpreis

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

September 3rd, 2018

In recent years, the T. Von Zastrow Stutenpreis (Ger-II) at Baden-Baden racecourse in Germany has offered a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I). This year, however, the 1 ½-mile turf test has been removed from the list of Breeders’ Cup Challenge races, and while the eleven starters in the 2018 renewal on September 1st put on quite a show and produced a thrilling finish, without a free pass to the Breeders’ Cup it seems unlikely that any of them will turn up in November at Churchill Downs.

After all, the race was won in upset fashion by the 23-1 local runner Sky Full of Stars, who had finished no better than fifth in her four previous runs against group stakes company. Trained by Henk Grewe and ridden by Marc Lerner, the four-year-old daughter of Kendargent employed unusual tactics to secure the victory. After breaking well from the gate, Sky Full of Stars settled just behind the leaders in fourth place while racing three-wide, then unleashed a sudden bid with more than half the race left to run, sweeping past the front-runners to secure a clear lead while racing seven or eight paths off the rail.

It was a surprising move, but Lerner seemed content to let his mount continue on, and after dropping back to the rail on the final turn, Sky Full of Stars remained in front with the rest of the field in hot pursuit. It seemed logical to assume that someone would catch her by the time the field straightened for home, but when the field reached that junction, Sky Full of Stars was still in command, with Lerner vigorously urging her on.

Late in the race, the British shipper Star Rock uncoiled a stretch rally that seemed poised to steal the victory, but Sky Full of Stars—showing remarkable resiliency at the end of a testing race—dug down deep and turned back the challenge to prevail by a head, recording a time of 2:33.43 seconds over a course labeled “good to soft.”
Needless to say, it was a gutsy performance from Sky Full of Stars, though it’s fair to question the quality of the rivals she defeated. Star Rock has primarily been a listed race and handicap competitor in Great Britian with her previous career-best effort being a third-place finish in the Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes (Eng-II) going 1 ¾ miles, while third-place finisher Titi Makfi has gone 0-for-8 since winning the listed Floodlit Stakes over the all-weather track at Kempton last fall.

But to Sky Full of Stars’ credit, she did earn a career-best 105 Racing Post Rating for her victory and appears to be progressing in the right direction. Only time will tell if her connections make a trip to the Breeders’ Cup, but down the road, there’s a chance that Sky Full of Stars could turn out to be a pretty nice filly. She certainly showed some determination with her victory on Saturday!