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ARCADIA, CA – Trainer Simon Callaghan’s multiple Grade 1-winning filly Bellafina is back home at Santa Anita Park seeking to right the ship in Saturday’s $100,000 Desert Stormer Stakes (G3), a 6-furlong dirt sprint for fillies and mares.
The 4-year-old Quality Road filly has crossed first at distances ranging from 6 furlongs (the Sorrento Stakes [G2], where she broke her maiden) to 1 1/16 miles (the Santa Anita Oaks [G1]), but the Oaks represents her most recent victory, over 13 months ago. Her 2020 debut came on April 25 in the 6-furlong Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, where she missed the break and finished a non-threatening fourth.
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1. Fighting Mad (4/1) – The first of two from the Bob Baffert stable, she is making her first start since winning the mile-long Torrey Pine Stakes (G3) at Del Mar last August. Though she has a record of 5-3-1-0, both defeats came at this 6-furlong distance. This will be her first appearance over the local strip.
2. First Star (6/1) – She steps back up to the stakes level after finishing second in a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claiming event here on Valentine’s Day. This will be the shortest distance that she has traveled in her career.
3. Mother Mother (5/2) – The second Baffert runner has a pair of stakes wins to her name and has run a level of consistency unseen by many in this field, as demonstrated by her 11-3-4-2 record. Though she has yet to graduate at the graded level, she has come within a head and a neck of doing so in the past.
4. Amuse (20/1) – Trainer Richard Mandella chose this race for her first start off of a 13-month layoff, where she was last seen finishing a well-beaten eighth in the Las Flores Stakes (G3) over this course and distance. The 5-year-old Medaglia d’Oro mare has consistently worked well at 5 and 6 furlongs since the beginning of March and appears fit for her long-awaited return.
5. Bellafina (6/5) – The morning line favorite returns to her home track, where she has a record of 6-4-2-0, and sees the return of regular rider Flavien Prat in the saddle. She outclasses the field on paper, but her inconsistency and lack of a recent W may send sharper bettors elsewhere.
6. Artistic Diva (15/1) – Like the foe to her inside, she will likely also relish returning to California – site of her 3 career victories – after a failed effort at Oaklawn Park. The John Sadler trainee was a distant fifth in the 5 1/2-furlong Spring Fever Stakes while making her first start in five months, so it is possible that she may have needed a race.
7. Tomlin (12/1) – She ships south from her Golden Gate Fields base for her first start here since running last behind Bellafina in the 2019 Las Virgenes Stakes (G2). While she might be better on synthetic (site of 3 of her 4 career victories), she may be a sharp exotics addition due to her 6-furlong record (6-3-1-2).
8. Hang a Star (20/1) – Her most recent effort – a 3 1/4-length upset at 21/1 odds while covering 6 1/2 furlongs over the local strip – convinced trainer Ian Kruljac to make her first attempt at the stakes level. Umberto Rispoli returns for the second time after piloting her to that victory, which saw the 4-year-old Tapizar filly earn a career-best 83 Beyer speed figure.
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