Miller Racing LLC’s Florida-bred Spirit Wind, a graded stakes-winning Florida-bred mare, is set to make her Grade 1 debut in Saturday’s $1 million Derby City Distaff on the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) undercard at Churchill Downs.

The 5-year-old daughter of Florida stallion Bahamian Squall, who captured the Dec. 23 Sugar Swirl (G3) at Gulfstream Park, is rated at 8-1 on the morning line for the seven-furlong sprint that drew a field of 10 fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and older.

Spirit Wind will be making her second start for Miller Racing LLC and trainer Saffie Joseph Jr since being privately purchased.

In her first start for her new connections, she finished third, beaten by less than a length in the March 9 Hurricane Bertie (G3) at Gulfstream Park, where she set a pressured pace that day before giving way grudgingly to winner Red Carpet Ready and runner-up Olivia Darling, who are both entered for the Derby City Distaff.

Spirit Wind will be equipped with blinkers for the first time Saturday.

Spirit Wind had previously raced in the colors of her breeder, Jacks or Better Farm Inc., the prominent Florida operation that has bred and raced such Florida-bred stars as Awesome Feather, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner and Eclipse Award champion, and multiple Grade 1 stakes-winning Jackson Bend, among many other top quality Thoroughbreds.

In her last start for Jacks or Better Farm Inc. in the six-furlong Sugar Swirl, Spirit Wind jumped out to a clear early lead and held on to win by a half-length over a late-rushing Intrepid Daydream.

Jose Ortiz, who rode Spirit Wind to victory in the Sugar Swirl, has the mount for the Derby City Distaff and they have post five.

Alva Starr, Saturday’s 5-2 morning-line favorite, prevailed by a half-length over Vahva in the Grade 1 Madison at Keeneland last out. Valva second-rated on the morning line at 3-1. Red Carpet Ready is rated at 9-2 in the Derby City Distaff after setting the pace and weakening to third in the Madison.

Three Witches, who captured the Feb. 3 Santa Monica (G2) at Santa Anita after being purchased for $1.7 million at auction in November, and Spirit Wind are next at 8-1.

Spirit Wind finished second in a four-and-a-half-furlong maiden race May 1, 2021 at Gulfstream before going to the sidelines for nine months. She returned to win three races in a row, breaking her maiden by 15 ½ lengths before capturing the $100,000 Any Limit by two-and-a-half lengths over six furlongs and the six-and-a-half-furlong Musical Romance by five lengths. Spirit Wind showed that she could hold her own against world class female sprinters going seven furlongs while finishing second behind Ce Ce in the 2022 Princess Rooney (G2) at Gulfstream. Ce Ce had earned an Eclipse Award as champion female sprinter while winning the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).

Spirit Wind was out of action for another eight months before returning to win an upper level, $62,500 optional claiming at Gulfstream in March of last year then finishing fourth in the Winning Colors (G3) won by champion Echo Zule at Churchill and winning the Sugar Swirl.

Spirit Wind’s sire, Bahamian Squall, stands at owner/breeder Donald Dizney’s Double Diamond Farm in Ocala. The Florida-bred son of Gone West is a Grade 1-stakes-placed winner of the 2013 Smile Sprint Handicap (G2).

Return to the May 3 issue of Wire to Wire