ARCADIA, CA – Kaleem Shah and Coolmore’s Bellafina bounced back from a poor 2020 debut to win her fifth race at The Great Race Place when she took home Sunday’s $100,000 Desert Stormer Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park.

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Breaking from post 5 under Flavien Prat as the 4/5 odds-on favorite, Bellafina settled comfortably by herself, stalking the two front-runners from a distance while simultaneously running several lengths ahead of her other four rivals. Fighting Mad dueled inside of Artistic Diva through opening fractions of :21.38 and :44.47 through the far turn.

Shifting out to run three-wide near the 1/4 pole, Bellafina reeled in the pair of pacesetters, who came together at the top of the stretch as the bettors’ choice began to pass. Inching ahead in mid-stretch, Bellafina pulled away from them at the 1/16 pole and crossed confidently for her first victory in 13 months. 

The Simon Callaghan trainee completed the 6-furlong fast dirt sprint in 1:09.85.

Credit: Benoit Photo

“This is pretty cool,” Prat said. “She broke well and she put me in a good spot and we had those two fillies as a target. At the 1/4 pole, we angled out and she did the rest. It’s great to be back home with this filly; she loves it here.”

Though never a threat to the winner, Hang a Star rallied impressively in the stretch to take second, 1 length behind Bellafina. Fighting Mad crossed the wire in third, a head in front of her Bob Baffert stablemate Mother Mother, but the stewards disqualified her and placed her behind Mother Mother.

Upon video review, the stewards determined that Fighting Mad had veered out in the early running and crossed in front of Mother Mother, forcing that foes to clip heels and stumble. However, though they also reviewed the bumper car action at the top of the stretch, the stewards did not further penalize Fighting Mad for knocking into Artistic Diva, who finished fifth.

Tomlin and First Star completed the order of finish in the seven-horse field. Amuse was scratched.

Bellafina’s win improved her overall record to 15-7-3-1, including a 7-5-2-0 mark over the local strip. The 4-year-old Quality Road filly (whom Shah purchased for $800,000 as a juvenile) increased her career earnings mark to $1,512,975.

“It unfolded pretty much as we expected,” Callaghan said. “We had decent speed and Flavien had her in a great position to stalk and gave us a really good performance. It shows how much she loves Santa Anita and we’re glad to get her back in the winner’s circle.”

Bellafina returned $3.60 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.10 to show. Hang a Star brought back $18.80 to place and $6.60 to show, while Mother Mother paid $2.20 to show.