Mon, 01/07/2019 - 08:41

Kaleem Shah’s Bellafina seemed well on her way to an Eclipse statuette for Champion 2-Year-Old Filly heading into November’s GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs. But she disappointed as the favorite and likely ceded that award to Jaywalk (Cross Traffic). Sunday at Santa Anita, however, the $800,000 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream purchase gave the racing world an empathic reminder that she is nevertheless one of the top contenders as eyes start to look towards the GI Kentucky Oaks with a comprehensive romp in the GII Santa Ynez S.

Second at odds-on in her career bow July 4 at Los Alamitos, Bellafina scored by 4 1/4 lengths in the GII Sorrento S. Aug. 5 at Del Mar and triumphed by the same margin in the GI Del Mar Debutante S. Sept. 1. Appearing ready for her coronation after a recording a stylish 6 1/2-length rout in the GI Chandelier S. around two turns here Sept. 29, she pressed the pace under the Twin Spires as the 19-10 favorite before fading to finish a well-beaten fourth. Reported to be in season during that effort, all eyes were on Bellafina as she kicked off her 3-year-old campaign in the Santa Ynez.

Away smoothly and in a straight line with all the money on, she punched through between horses to travel along the hip of clear second choice Mother Mother through a modest :22.67 quarter. Drawing on even terms with that one passing the half-mile pole, Bellafina awaited her cue from Flavien Prat and poked a head in front on her own accord going by a :45 flat half. Given just a slight nudge outside the quarter pole, the heavy favorite easily shook away from her rival nearing the stretch and poured it on from there, cruising under the wire the easiest of winners in sharp time. Mother Mother held on for second, ahead of Tomlin, who was in turn well clear for the show.

“She pretty much just took [Prat] to the front and I thought from halfway we were looking pretty good,” trainer Simon Callaghan said. “She wasn’t even blowing after the race. She was so composed and it was like it was nothing for her.”

Shah added in regard to the Breeders’ Cup loss, “It was just not meant to be, not her day. She needed to come back and show us what she did today to validate that she’s one of the best fillies in the country.”

Pedigree Notes:

Bellafina is a full-sister to last year’s Federico Tesio S. victor Diamond King, who also placed in the GIII Smarty Jones S., GIII Oklahoma Derby and GIII Swale S. Her dam is a stakes-placed half-sister to Have At It (Kitten’s Joy), winner of last fall’s GII Hill Prince S., out of MGSW Akronism. Akron Moon is responsible for a juvenile filly by Verrazano and was bred back to Quality Road once more last spring.

SOURCE: TDN 1/6/19