ARCADIA, CA – Kaleem Shah’s Bellafina returned to form in a major way on Sunday, absolutely obliterating her four foes en route to capturing the Grade 2, $200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita.
Breaking from post 2 under Flavien Prat as the prohibitive 2/5 favorite, Bellafina sat comfortably just off of Mother Mother through an opening 1/4-mile in :22.67 before inching forward and taking command, and from there, the race was over. Still well in hand as she began clearing the field in the far turn, Bellafina continued to cruise as she pleased. Never asked for more than what appeared to be a leisurely jog while her competitors struggled to stay in the camera frame, the Simon Callaghan trainee crossed the wire in a final time of 1:22.00 for the 7-furlong sprint over the fast main track.
“Coming out of the gate, I really didn’t know what to expect,” Prat said. “I knew there was speed outside of me. She broke well, relaxed and dropped the bit around the turn, and then she took off. She had trained well for Simon coming into this, and I expected her to run well, and she did. She’s definitely improving. She was a little immature before, but today, she improved a lot.”
Though unable to keep pace with the winner (who crossed 8 1/2 lengths ahead), Mother Mother was able to hold onto second by 1 3/4 lengths over Tomlin. Spread out far behind, Reflect and Sold It completed the order of finish.
The Santa Ynez is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Bellafina earned 10 points for the win, with Mother Mother receiving 4 for second, Tomlin 2 for third, and Reflect 1 for fourth.
Bellafina’s win was the fourth of her career, all of which have come in stakes, and was a return to her past form after finishing a disappointing fourth most recently in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes. The 3-year-old daughter of Quality Road now carries a record of 6-4-1-0 with $708,000 in earnings.
“After the Breeders’ Cup, Kaleem said to just run her when she’s ready,” Callaghan said. “I called him a couple weeks ago and told him, ‘We have to run her.’ After the disappointment of the Breeders’ Cup, you want to see this sort of a performance. We’ve loosely talked about two races before the Santa Anita Oaks and we’ll see how it comes out. We’re in a good position to now and have the first race of the year under our belt. Kaleem is ultra-patient and we’ll just let the filly tell us the best plan.”
Bellafina returned $2.80 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. Mother Mother brought back $2.40 to place and $2.10 to show, while Tomlin paid $3.40 to show.