QUALITY ROAD'S BELLAFINA ACES TWO-TURN TEST IN CHANDELIER
Sat, 09/29/2018 - 13:44
September 29, 2018 | Source: TDN
He’s got a fair bit of work to do to catch the likes of Bob Baffert (10 wins) and Wayne Lukas (9 victories), but trainer Simon Callaghan won his second straight GI Chandelier S. (formerly Oak Leaf S.) Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita, saddling Kaleem Shah’s Bellafina (Quality Road) to a thoroughly convincing victory over pacesetting Vibrance (Violence). ‘TDN Rising Star’ Brill (Medaglia d’Oro) checked in a distant third. The victory earns Bellafina an all-expenses-paid trip to the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs Nov. 3.
A debut second at Los Alamitos July 4, Bellafina won her maiden by 4 1/4 lengths in the GII Sorrento S. Aug. 5 and made it two in a row with a 4 1/4-length defeat of ‘Rising Star’ Mother Mother (Pioneerof the Nile) in the GI Del Mar Debutante Sept. 1. The early scratching of that Baffert trainee stripped the Chandelier of some of its intrigue and Bellafina left no doubt as to who the queen of the west is.
Vibrance won the break, but Brill showed enough early foot to her outside to consign Bellafina–getting blinkers off for this first two-turn test–to a bit of a wide run into the clubhouse turn. Bellafina ultimately crossed that one and settled into a two-path trip chasing Vibrance into the backstretch. Galloping along comfortably from second through a half that was up in :46.51, Bellafina was felt for by Flavien Prat at the three-eighths and by the time they’d reached the quarter pole, it was entirely academic. The favorite drifted in a bit once heads were turned for home, but she widened with nearly every stride and was punched out through the final sixteenth of a mile to score handily.
“I think the big key today was to see her relax, and going two turns that was very important,” said Callaghan, who sent out ‘TDN Rising Star’ Moonshine Memories (Malibu Moon) to win this last year, also with Prat at the controls. “We took the blinkers off–it was a decision I thought would benefit her. She was so relaxed today. When she had the blinkers on, she was a little more tense. The race set up about how we hoped, she relaxed and was breathing throughout, and then kicked at the end. I think that’s about all you could ever hope for.”