Jockey Flavien Prat had a good day at Del Mar on Sunday, capturing both graded contests on the day.
Kaleem Shah Inc.’s BELLAFINA took command of Sunday’s $201,725 Sorrento Stakes (G2) and never looked back en route to a 4 1/4-length win for trainer Simon Callaghan, who added blinkers to her tack in this one.
Prat guided the Quality Road filly through splits of :21.82, :45.25 and :57.37 before the duo finished six furlongs over the fast main track in 1:10.61. Sent off the 3-1 second choice, Bellafina paid $8.40.
Del Mar May rallied from near the back of the pack to take second, sticking her nose in front of Boujie Girl on the wire. It was another length back to Dragic in fourth, with Reflect, Stirred, Summerland, Dichotomy, Lady Lucy and Madison’s Quarters completed the order under the wire.
Bellafina broke her maiden in this spot after running second in her debut at Los Alamitos on Independence Day. She’s now earned $128,000.
Bred in Kentucky by JSM Equine LLC, Bellafina is out of the stakes-placed Malibu Moon mare Akron Moon. The bay lass counts Grade 3-placed stakes winner Diamond King as a full brother and comes from the same female family as 1977 champion grass horse Johnny D.
Earlier, Prat and RIVER BOYNE posted a 1 1/4-length victory as the 1-2 favorite in the $150,000 La Jolla Handicap (G3). The Jeff Mullins trainee ran 1 1/16 miles over the firm turf in 1:40.93.
The dark bay son of Dandy Man bided his time near the rear of the field, steadied off heels five-eighths from the finish, then moved forward between rivals to eventually grab control and continue on to earn his first graded victory.
River Boyne paid $3 for the win over Arawak, who came out in the stretch after running in last to rally for second by a half-length over pacesetter Calexman. That runner set splits of :23.40, :47.81 and 1:11.50 before being passed by Inscom in the lane and battling back to stick his neck in front on the wire. Restrainedvengeance and Move Over completed the order of finish.
River Boyne broke his maiden by five lengths on December 26 at Santa Anita Park, then captured his sophomore bow on February 8 in an allowance/optional claimer. The Irish-bred captured his stakes bow in the Pasadena Stakes next out, ran fifth in the American Turf (G3) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, and brought a win in the Rainbow Stakes into Sunday’s La Jolla.
Campaigned by Red Baron’s Barn LLC and Rancho Temescal LLC, River Boyne is now 5-2-0 from 10 career starts and has banked $361,710 in lifetime earnings.
Bred in Ireland by Limestone and Tara Studs, River Boyne is out of the Mark of Esteem mare Clytha, who is a half-sister to Group 2 winner Ventiquattrofogli.
Flavien Prat, jockey Bellafina, winner
“I was (drawn) inside and didn’t want to get stuck behind horses. So I let her roll out of there. She’s got some speed and she was comfortable. I asked her for her kick on the turn and she gave it to me. She felt good and I think she’ll run farther, too.”
Stewart Elliott, jockey Del Mar May, second
“I really couldn’t tell how much horse I had as we went along in there. On the turn I didn’t want to go five wide, so I went down inside horses and wasn’t sure if she could handle that. But she did and when I wheeled her out she came running. Good effort for her.”
Geovanni Franco, jockey Boujie Girl, third
“My filly ran good. The winner was very impressive. I think our outside post cost us. It didn’t help, that’s for sure.”
Simon Callaghan, trainer Bellafina, winner
“She showed us in the afternoon what she has been showing us in the morning. I actually didn’t expect her to be on the lead; I just told Flavien (Prat) to break and take it from there. I think she’s a filly with a big future and she’s just going to keep getting better. I don’t want to say yes, definitely (to the Del Mar Debutante). It’s a possibility, but when you’ve got a filly that you think this much of, it’s better to be a little patient and work your way back from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.”
LA JOLLA QUOTES
Jeff Mullins, trainer River Boyne, winner
“I really didn’t know (whether he would be close to the pace or not); I just leave that up to Flavien (Prat). He knows how much horse he’s got underneath him and it has worked out pretty much every time. He got in a little tight back there and I was a little worried it might take away from his kick, but obviously it didn’t. The (Del Mar Derby) is probably the next step.”
Flavien Prat, jockey River Boyne, winner
“Going into the backside, he grabbed the bit and they were slowing it down up front. It put me in a bit of a tough spot. But he was comfortable, so it worked out. He’s a nice horse to ride. And I don’t think he’ll have any problems with more distance; he’s showed he can handle it.”
Rafael Bejarano, jockey Arawak, second
“I wanted to ride him, but I was fighting him. He was lugging in so bad in the stretch. It was all I could do.”
Edwin Maldonado, jockey Calexman, third
“It was a good race for him; he ran well. Especially considering I had to take a whole bunch of heat at the half-mile (pole) from Martin Garcia’s horse (Inscom). That might have cost me the race.”