HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Bortolazzo Stable’s Bellavais broke through along the rail and blew by her foes en route to her first career graded score in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Marshua’s River Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Breaking from the rail under Javier Castellano at 2-1 odds, Bellavais appeared eager to take command, but she soon took back and relaxed in midpack, allowing I’m Betty G to post opening fractions of :24.07, :48.34, and 1:12.04. Beginning to come under a ride midway through the far turn, I’m Betty G was soon met with a challenge to her outside from La Signare. I’m Betty G began drifting away from the rail amidst her duel, providing a loaded Bellavais ample room to unleash her speed. Bursting past the race’s top three runners, the Todd Pletcher trainee put on a show in the stretch run, pulling away to win by 3 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:41.98 for the 8 1/2-furlong event over the firm turf course.
“I had a perfect trip, dream trip,” Castellano said. “Unfortunately, I had a little trouble with her last time (in last month’s Grade 3 My Charmer Stakes) and tried to split horses and cut the corner and it was tight, I tried to anticipate and it cost me the race. Today, I thought the extra distance was going to help her a little bit. It worked out great. There was a lot of speed in the race. It folded and I was saving all the ground. Before the race, I thought the horse might be better on the outside, but the hole opened, and those kinds of things, you just have to use your best judgement, and it worked out great today.”
Though her lead was usurped in midstretch, I’m Betty G still had enough left to take second in a four-way photo that saw Valedictorian, Bombshell, and Hogans Holiday finish a head and two necks behind. The 2-1 slight favorite, La Signare was unable to satisfy her supporters at the window and weakened to sixth, while Rose Tree and Monte Crista completed the order of finish.
Bellavais’ win was her first in a graded stakes event and improved her overall record to 14-5-2-2. The 5-year-old daughter Tapit, purchased for $485,000 at auction in January 2018, increased her lifetime earnings mark to $340,720.
“I think a couple things about the last race (the My Charmer),” Pletcher said. “Unfortunately, it rained that day and she had just come off running a mile in 1:33 at Belmont on firm ground, and I think they ran a mile in 1:39 that day to give you an idea how soft the inside course was. She came back and I loved the way she was training coming into the race. She drew the rail and Javier’s plan was to try to save ground and maybe tip out at some point, but a hole opened and she shot through like a star.”
Bellavais returned $6.60 to win, $3.60 to place, and $2.80 to show. I’m Betty G brought back $6.80 to place and $3.80 to show, while Valedictorian paid $ to show.