Bellafina continued her quest to be the best 3-year-old filly Saturday by winning the Grade 2 $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita. But it wasn’t the kind of dominating performance people have come to expect from her.
She beat the slimmed down field of five in the one-mile race by three-quarters of a length, but didn’t show the kind of dominance she has put forth in winning five of seven lifetime starts.
“When you are one-to-nine [in betting odds], you just have to do what you’ve got to do,” winning trainer Simon Callaghan said. “I was worried a little that she was in front, but I left it to [jockey] Flavien [Prat], because horses have been closing [Saturday] and winning, so we might have won despite the [track] bias.”
Bellafina paid $2.20, $2.10 and $2.10. Enaya Alrabb finished second and Calf Moon Bay was third. Mother Mother was fourth followed by Tomlin.
“She was good, as always,” jockey Prat said. “I thought Mother Mother would show more speed with blinkers, but it seemed like everybody was waiting and watching me. So, I tried to bide my time and wait as long as I could. … As soon as I saw that filly (Enaya Alrabb), she re-engaged.”
Callaghan still has the filly on course for the big race at Santa Anita and, possibly, the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.
“We’ll enjoy this and take a breath,” Callaghan said. “I think we’ll definitely go on from here to the [Santa Anita] Oaks [on April 6]. She did what she had to do [Saturday].”
Callaghan picked up his second stakes win when he won the Grade 3 $100,000 Thunder Road Stakes with True Valor by a half-length over Le Ken, going a mile on the turf. True Valor had to go three wide into the stretch to win the race. He paid $25.00, $10.00 and $9.20.
Andrea Atzeni won his first ever race at Santa Anita after riding most of his career in England.
“I’m having a great time here in America,” Atzeni said. “I was going to go back three weeks ago, but I changed my flight to the end of February. This is a good place to be.”
Platinum Warrior won the Grade 2 $200,000 San Marcos Stakes for older horses going 1 ¼ miles on the turf. The race was originally scheduled for last Saturday but was delayed a week because of rain.
Platinum Warrior paid $34.40, $13.80 and $8.40. Epical was second and Beach View was third in the field of 13.
“I let him go, let him dictate it,” Irish jockey Shane Foley said. “I knew his speed was his main attribute. Being on the front end turning into the straight was a bit daunting but I just had to play him at his strengths.”