ARCADIA, CA – Though she didn’t romp like the 1/9 favorite that she was, Kaleem Shah’s Bellafina nevertheless put forth a solid, businesslike effort to wire the field in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking well from post 3 as the prohibitive 1/9 favorite, Bellafina found herself on the lead with Mother Mother following closely to her outside. Together, the two fillies ran opening fractions of :23.13, :46.33, and 1:10.31. Midway through the far turn, Mother Mother made her bid, but Bellafina repelled her and cut the corner sharply. Beginning to draw away in the stretch drive, a late-rallying Enaya Alrabb tried to play spoiler, but Bellafina was too strong. Confidently ridden late, Bellafina crossed with a 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:35.99 for the mile-long event over a main track surface rated good.
“She was good, as always,” Prat said. “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 and wait as long as I could. As soon as she saw that filly (Enaya Alrabb), she re-engaged.”
After nearly pulling a major upset last out in the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes, Enaya Alrabb proved that she wasn’t a one-hit-wonder, outrunning the rest of the field by 2 3/4 lengths. Calf Moon Bay‘s stakes debut saw her eclipse Mother Mother in the shadow of the wire to take third by a 1/2-length, while Tomlin was never in the running and completed the order of finish in the five-filly field.
The Las Virgenes is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Bellafina earned 10 points for the win, with Enaya Alrabb receiving 4 for second, Calf Moon Bay 2 for third, and Mother Mother 1 for fourth.
Bellafina’s win was her second in as many 2019 starts and improves her overall record to 7-5-1-0 with $828,000 earned. The 3-year-old daughter of Quality Road was Triple Crown nominated, but following the race, trainer Simon Callaghan all but eliminated a Kentucky Derby prep from her future.
“We’ll enjoy this and take a deep breath,” Callaghan said. “It’s never easy, but we got the win. I think we’ll definitely go on from here to the (Grade 1 Santa Anita) Oaks. 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.”
Bellafina returned $2.20 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Enaya Alrabb brought back $3.40 to place and $2.40 to show, while Calf Moon Bay paid $3.20 to show.