CLASSY BELLAFINA PREVAILS BY THREE QUARTERS OF A LENGTH IN GRADE II, $200,000 LAS VIRGENES AS PRAT & CALLAGHAN TEAM FOR ONE MILE WIN IN 1:35.99 OVER ‘GOOD’ MAIN TRACK
CALLAGHAN INDICATES NEXT STOP FOR QUALITY ROAD FILLY IS GRADE I SANTA ANITA OAKS APRIL 6
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 9, 2019)–On what developed into a spectacular day with the remnants of a morning storm leaving the San Gabriel Mountains stunning hues of green, heavily favored Bellafina put her considerable class on full display at Santa Anita, as she led gate to wire in taking the Grade II, $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes by three quarters of a length under Flavien Prat. Owned by Kaleem Shah and trained by Simon Callaghan, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Quality Road got a flat mile over a main track listed as “good” in 1:35.99.
Breaking from post position three in a field of six sophomore fillies, Bellafina was unhurried early, but made a comfortable lead heading into the Club House turn with Bob Baffert’s Mother Mother, who was adding blinkers, tracking her about a half length behind to her outside as they turned up the backstretch.
As both Prat and Drayden Van Dyke asked their respective mounts to pick it up heading into the far turn, Bellafina maintained a neck advantage as they hit the top of the lane with Enaya Alrabb and Mike Smith in hot pursuit about two lengths back.
“She was good, as always,” said Prat, who has now ridden Bellafina to five wins from seven career starts. “I thought Mother Mother would show more speed with the blinkers, but it seemed like everybody was waiting and watching me. So, I tried to bide my time as long as I could…As soon as she saw that filly (runner-up Enaya Alrabb), she re-engaged.”
A disappointing fourth as the 2-5 favorite two starts back in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Nov. 2, Bellafina, who is out of the Malibu Moon mare Akron Moon, was a smashing 8 ½ length winner of the seven furlong, Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes here on Jan. 6 and was thus the prohibitive 1-9 favorite today, paying $2.20, $2.10 and $2.10.
“We’ll enjoy this and take a deep breath,” said Callaghan. “It’s never easy, but we got the win. I think we’ll definitely go on from here to the (Santa Anita) Oaks (Grade I, April 6 at 1 1/16 miles). She did what she had to do today. I think the track’s been favoring horses coming off the pace and it’s a little bit sticky. They went legit fractions. Mother Mother’s a good filly and she fell away to fourth, so I think it was a good performance.”
Purchased by Shah for $800,000 at a March 2-year-old in training sale, Bellafina now has five wins from her seven starts and with the winner’s share of $120,000, she has earnings of $828,000.
Attentive to the pace while third for nearly the entire trip, Enaya Alrabb was gaining on the winner inch by inch late and finished 2 ¾ lengths in front of Calf Moon Bay. Off at 6-1, Enaya Alrabb paid $3.40 and $2.40.
Last into and around the first turn, Calf Moon Bay tagged Mother Mother late to finish third by a half length. Off at 19-1 with Joel Rosario up, Calf Moon Bay paid $3.20 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.13, 46.33, 1:10.31 and 1:22.98.