Bellafina Chases More Grade 1 Glory
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
Three-time Grade 1 winner Bellafina will chase more of the same on Saturday at Santa Anita Park when she goes favored in the $300,000 La Brea Stakes (G1) against eight rivals. The race is the seventh of an 11-race card on opening day of the winter/spring meeting at the Arcadia, California track; seven of those races are stakes.
Bellafina, an $800,000 two-year-old purchase by Quality Road, quickly justified the price tag with wins in the Sorrento Stakes (G2), Del Mar Debutante (G1), and Chandelier Stakes (G1). The filly was a sharp favorite in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) but ran fourth for trainer Simon Callaghan.
The three-year-old bay filly returned this year and went back to her winning ways, taking the Santa Ynez (G2) by 8 ½ lengths, and then adding the Las Virgenes (G2) and Santa Anita Oaks (G1) impressively. She went favored in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs but finished fifth. She then bounced around, finishing third in the Test (G1) at Saratoga over this distance, fourth in the Cotillion (G1) at Parx, and second beaten less than a length in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1).
Bellafina is four for five at Santa Anita, has regular pilot Flavien Prat back aboard, and is two for four at the distance.
She takes on Hard Not to Love, a 6-1 shot morning line trained by John Shirreffs. The Hard Spun daughter is a half-sister to Canadian standout Wonder Gadot, and is three for four over this track. Her lone loss came at this distance, but that was when she broke poorly and rushed up to set a quick pace. Hard Not to Love gets Mike Smith back aboard today; he rode when she won here going six furlongs in October.
Motion Emotion is coming off a win in the Zia Park Oaks for trainer Richard Baltas. She won three of eight starts this year, and narrowly missed in a Keeneland allowance race in October, but makes her Santa Anita debut in this.
Mother Mother hasn’t race since May, but was a grade 1 placed stakes winner last year and grade 2 placed behind Bellafina earlier this season. Bell’s the Won was a Keeneland grade 2 winner in October, and could prove the biggest threat to the favorite. Stirred, Free Cover, Del Mar May, and First Star round out the field.
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