SHAH’S MIGHTY BELLAFINA CHARGES TO 5 ¼ LENGTH SCORE IN GRADE I, $400,000 SANTA ANITA OAKS; PRAT & CALLAGHAN TEAM FOR 1 1/16 MILE WIN IN 1:45.47
WITH 100 QUALIFYING POINTS IN-HAND, IT’S ON TO THE GRADE I KENTUCKY OAKS ON MAY 3
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 6, 2019)–With an economy of motion generally reserved for the game’s greats, Kaleem Shah’s Bellafina waltzed to a widening 5 ¼ length victory in Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks under Flavien Prat. Trained by Simon Callaghan, the bay daughter of Quality Road got a mile and one sixteenth in 1:45.47.
Tactical as always in the early running, Bellafina, who broke from the outside in a field of four sophomore fillies, sat a perfect trip with Prat, as she loomed a measured third around the far turn and easily accelerated away from runner-up Flor de La Mar leaving the quarter pole.
“It worked out perfectly,” said Callaghan. “She relaxed great, did exactly what Flavien wanted and she was there when he wanted her, so it worked out as we hoped. We weren’t sure what the tactics were going to be on the inside of us and we didn’t want to commit to going to the lead because then we could be pressured. We figured staying out wide made sense.”
With the only bad race on her form a fourth place finish in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies three starts back on Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs, Bellafina, who came of a gate to wire score going a flat mile in the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes here Feb. 9, was off at 1-5 and paid $2.60 and $2.10 with no show wagering.
Out of the Malibu Moon mare Akron Moon, Bellafina notched her third Grade I win in the Oaks and sixth overall victory from eight starts. With the winner’s share of $240,000, she became racing’s newest millionaire with total earnings of $1,068,000.
“We were a little wide on the first turn,” said Prat, who has ridden Bellafina in all eight of her starts. “I didn’t want to get in any trouble, so I got her to be comfortable and relax. At the three eighths 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 (Grade I, 1 1/8 miles on May 3). I’m confident that she will run better than she did in the Breeders’ Cup.”
Ridden by Joel Rosario, Flor de La Mar went head and head with Chasing Yesterday and was clearly second best on the day, as she prevailed over the half sister to 2015 Triple Crown Champion American Pharoah by 3 ½ lengths. Off at 6-1, Flor de La Mar paid $3.60 to place.
With 170 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points on the line, Bellafina collected 100, Flor de La Mar 40, Chasing Yesterday 20 and Slewgoodtobetrue picked up 10 points.
Fractions on the race were 24.10, 47.88, 1:12.51 and 1:38.43.