DEL MAR, CA – Kaleem Shah’s Bellafina broke well and broke away in far turn en route to a dominating score in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Del Mar Debutante Stakes.
Exiting the outside post 5 under Flavien Prat, Bellafina dueled three-wide outside of Mother Mother in the middle and Watch Me Burn to the inside. After the trio set the opening 1/4-mile split in :21.93, Watch Me Burn dropped out and Bellafina stuck her head in front by the 1/2-mile split, which came in :44.68. Exiting the far turn with a growing lead and a full head of steam, Prat kept the Simon Callaghan trainee to task for much of the ride before wrapping her up late and crossing with a 4 1/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:25.51 for the 7-furlong main track event.
“She broke sharp, she was into the bit today, and she was always in good position,” Callaghan said. “The race went pretty much as we thought it might and it was a really good performance. It was nice to see her really show her class at the end. I said to Kaleem that she’s the best filly I’ve trained. She’s pretty special and I think she’s going to keep getting better.”
Though no match for the winner, Mother Mother kept on well to take second. Boujie Girl overtook the 3/5 favorite and highly-regarded Brill, who struggled to fire and finished a disappointing fourth. Watch Me Burn was never a factor after the first 1/4 mile and completed the order of finish.
“That wasn’t her today,” said Drayden Van Dyke after riding Brill. “She didn’t run her race. She wasn’t there for me.”
Bellafina’s win was her second straight following the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes here last month after she finished second on debut at Los Alamitos. The 2-year-old daughter of Quality Road, purchased for $800,000 last March, has now earned $308,000.
“No special instructions going in,” Prat said. “She was more aggressive today. I think that race the other day (the Sorrento) got her in that mode. She was on it. Then when she made the lead, she just dropped the bit; she backed off. Can she go farther? Well, I guess we’ll see.”
Bellafina returned $6.60 to win, $3.20 to place, and $3.20 to show. Mother Mother brought back $4.20 to place and $3.60 to show, while Boujie Girl paid $5.60 to show.