by Dick Powell
The $300,000 Chandelier Stakes (G1) will be run Saturday at Santa Anita Park as two-year-old fillies are asked to go two turns. It has attracted a field of six and only VIBRANCE (#3) (8-1) has won going two turns when she broke her maiden at Del Mar a month ago.
Three of the six starters were seen last in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) going seven furlongs. It was a tough race to analyze since it was fast early/slow late. The pace figures of the winner, BELLAFINA (#6) (9-5), bears that out: 99, 106, 68. Usually, a decline like that shows a horse collapsing from the slow pace, and while she probably did, she collapsed a lot less than the other two fillies who raced in the Debutante.
MOTHER MOTHER (#1) (4-1) broke her maiden by over six lengths in her well-bet career debut going six furlongs for trainer Bob Baffert. Considering how many Baffert monsters needed a race to graduate (American Pharoah, Drefong, Arrogate, etc.), it was a terrific debut and she certainly was bred to improve.
In the Debutante, Joe Talamo sent her to the front but was under constant pressure from Bellafina. When Bellafina turned up the heat at the top of the stretch, Mother Mother had no answer. However, while no match for the winner she was more than three lengths ahead of the next horse. Baffert adds blinkers for the Chandelier and gets Mike Smith to ride for the first time. The daughter of Pioneerof the Nile draws the rail and will use her natural speed to her best advantage.
Bellafina ran second as the 1-2 favorite in her career debut at Los Alamitos back on July 4 going five furlongs in very fast time. She came back at Del Mar and romped in the Sorrento Stakes (G2) going six furlongs when she went gate to wire. In the Debutante, she dominated by stalking a fast pace and taking over in the stretch. The $800,000 two-year-old-in-training purchase is by Quality Road and out of a dam by Malibu Moon. Despite winning by over four lengths last out, trainer Simon Callaghan removes the blinkers she wore in both of her graded stakes wins here.
BRILL (#4) (3-1) cost $1 million as a yearling last year. She made her debut going five furlongs as the 7-10 favorite, getting up to win going away, then tried to make up ground in the Debutante before tiring badly. Florent Geroux replaces Drayden Van Dyke aboard the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, who shows some fast workouts for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer (18 percent going long for the first time). I was not impressed with her debut other than she did it going only five furlongs but at no time in the Debutante did she look like a threat even though she was 7-10 again.
Vibrance began her career going a two-turn mile on the turf at Del Mar and did nothing from post 10. She switched to the main track last out and won easily in very slow time going two turns. Her form is very hard to gauge with the time of the maiden race being so slow. The daughter of Violence is out of a dam by Dynaformer and Joel Rosario flies in for the mount.
DER LU (#5) (4-1) broke her maiden by three lengths as the 7-10 favorite going 6 1/2 furlongs in her career debut for Baffert. The final time was average but it did earn the filly a BRIS Speed rating of 92. Off for eight weeks and training well for this, the daughter of Orb could be a danger in here with Van Dyke, who is winning at a 42 percent clip riding for Baffert. If there is a danger to upset the form of the Debutante, Der Lu is it.
I am negative on Brill and not sure about Mother Mother. Der Lu qualifies as the other Baffert and will probably sit off Mother Mother while stalking the pace. Flavien Prat has a decision to make going into the first turn on Bellafina: does he go up and get engaged in the early pace scenario or wait as long as he can?
Der Lu has every right to improve enough to be the danger at a price and I will use her in the key position.
Win: #5 Der Lu.
Exacta: #5 Der Lu with #1 Mother Mother and #6 Bellafina
Exacta: #1 Mother Mother and #6 Bellafina with #5 Der Lu