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LEXINGTON, KY – A late run from Club Car made it close, but even-money favorite Bell’s the One successfully necked out victory in Saturday’s $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (G2) at Keeneland.
The TCA is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, awarding an automatic berth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar this November.
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Bell’s the One broke well under Corey Lanerie from the far outside post in the field of six fillies and mares, then dropped back to the rear while spotting the field a handful of lengths down the backstretch.
Defending race champion Inthemidstofbiz posted opening fractions of :21.57 and :44.80 with Miss Mosaic keeping close watch on her right hip, then turned for home still on the lead but under pressure from both sides.
After trailing early, the Neil Pessin-trained Bell’s the One ranged up effortlessly while cornering and swept four-wide at the top of the stretch, then launched her bid to the front while outside Estilo Talentoso.
Frank’s Rockette dove to the rail and Club Car came running hard late, but Bell’s the One took the lead in mid-stretch and never relented en route to winning the 6-furlong fast dirt sprint in 1:08.63.
“When I ride her, I just let her gather her feet underneath her and be comfortable wherever she needs to be,” Lanerie said. “Today, I actually tried to keep her a little closer because I was afraid if they got away from me, I wouldn’t be able to make up the ground going 6 furlongs, and she gives everything she’s got every time. I could tell from about the 5/16 pole, I’m in contention where, if she gives me her kick, I’m going to catch them. She has the fastest turn of foot (of any horse) I’ve ever been on.”
Club Car endured a tough trip down the backside, at one point nearly running up on Frank’s Rockette’s heels, and steadied while cornering under Tyler Gaffalione before launching a late bid to take second by a head over Estilo Talentoso.
“The only thing was she was a little more keen today with the addition of blinkers,” Gaffalione said. “She put herself more into the race and kind of made me wait a little bit longer than I wanted to when I was looking for room, but she put in a good run. Hats off to the winner – she’s a nice filly. When I got (Club Car) out, I thought I had her the whole way, but that filly just never quit.”
Inthemidstofbiz, Frank’s Rockette, and Miss Mosaic completed the order of finish.
Bell’s the One’s victory was her third of the year following the 6 1/2-furlong Roxelana Stakes at Churchill Downs and the 6-furlong Honorable Miss Handicap (G2) at Saratoga. The 5-year-old Majesticperfection mare’s record improved to 21-10-4-2 with $1,336,825 earned for Lothenbach Stables.
“She’s one of the best mares, if not the best horse, I’ve ever had,” Pessin said. “The only thing I regret with her is she never gets the respect she deserves. Even in this race, people weren’t even picking her on top, which made absolutely zero sense to me. The Breeders’ Cup, they got Ce Ce picked in front of her on the program and I’ve beat her every time I’ve run against her. So I don’t know what this mare has to do to earn respect, but she’s definitely got mine.”
Bell’s the One returned $4.20 to win, $2.80 to place, and $2.10 to show. Club Car brought back $6.60 to place and $3.40 to show. Estilo Talentoso paid $2.60 to show.
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