Another ‘Quality’ Performance from Bellafina in SA Oaks

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 11:17

Despite a less-than-perfect trip, the extremely talented Bellafina kept her unblemished sophomore season intact Saturday while setting up her date with redemption in next month’s GI Kentucky Oaks. Second at 1-2 when unveiled at Los Alamitos last July 4, the pricey Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream buy ran away with the GII Sorrento S., GI Del Mar Debutante S. and GI Chandelier S. before a disappointing fourth as the favorite in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies under the Twin Spires Nov. 2. It was subsequently revealed that she had been in season during the Breeders’ Cup, but she’s been nothing but business this term, romping in the seven-panel GII Santa Ynez S. here Jan. 6 and digging in after taking heat in the GII Las Virgenes S. over an additional furlong Feb. 9.

An overwhelming favorite in this short field despite the presence of a pair of formidable Bob Baffert-trained ‘TDN Rising Stars’ in Flor De La Mar and Chasing Yesterday, Bellafina was hung very wide outside of her three foes into the first turn, forcing Flavien Prat to throttle her back rather than use too much horse early. She advanced into a joint second down the backside as American Pharoah’s half-sister Chasing Yesterday showed the way and Flor de La Mar sat in the pocket. Flor de La Mar went for an early run to take over from her stablemate after a :47.88 half, and Prat soon gave the favorite her cue. She glided past her main rivals at the head of the lane, and poured it on from there to assert her superiority under mostly just hands and heels.

“We were a little wide on the first turn. I didn’t want to get in any trouble, so I got her to be comfortable and relax,” Prat said. “At the 3/8ths pole, she ducked out a little and the others got away from us. We regrouped and when we made our move and got the lead, I was quite confident. I’m looking forward to the Kentucky Oaks. I’m confident that she will run better than she did in the Breeders. Cup.”

Trainer Simon Callaghan confirmed that the Oaks would be next for Bellafina should she exit Saturday’s effort in good order.

“This is a very humbling sport, so I’m always hoping for the best but anticipating anything could happen in a race,” said owner Kaleem Shah. “At the top of the stretch she switched leads and went on her way. I was thrilled to see her performance today. Last time in Louisville I think the team was disappointed; we were hoping for a win obviously but that didn’t happen, but let’s see what happens this time. If everything goes well, I think Churchill Downs is the next stop. I definitely wish that race in Kentucky was run here in Arcadia.”

Pedigree Notes: 
Bellafina is the second foal out of stakes-placed Akron Moon. The mare’s first foal is multiple stakes winner and multiple graded stakes-placed Diamond King (Quality Road), who made a successful 4-year-old debut in a Gulfstream optional claimer Mar. 22. Akron Moon produced a filly by Verrazano in 2017 and, barren in 2018, produced a colt by Quality Road earlier this term. Akron Moon is a half-sister to 4-year-old graded stakes winner Have at It (Kitten’s Joy). Joe Minor’s JSM Equine purchased Akron Moon for $175,000 at the 2014 Keeneland November sale. The mare RNA’d for $2.7 million at last year’s Fasig-Tipton November sale.