After opening the year with an 8 1/2-length thrashing in the Santa Ynez (G2), Bellafina will be heavily favored against four rivals in Saturday’s $200,000 Las Virgenes (G2) at Santa Anita. Flavien Prat rides the classy three-year-old filly for Simon Callaghan.
As part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, the one-mile Las Virgenes will offer points on a 10-4-2-1 scale toward a berth in the Run for the Lillies on May 3. Bellafina currently ranks third on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard with 22 points.
The daughter of Quality Road romped in three consecutive stakes, including the Chandelier (G1) and Del Mar Debutante (G1), before finishing fourth as the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Bellafina cut back to seven furlongs for the Santa Ynez and netted a 98 BRIS Speed rating, easily a field-best last-out number.
Mother Mother missed by a neck when third in the Starlet (G1) two back but was no factor when second in the Santa Ynez. The Pioneerof the Nile filly is eligible to run better on the stretch back out for Bob Baffert and Drayden Van Dyke will keep the mount on the early 7-2 second choice.
Starlet runner-up Enaya Alrabb comes next on the morning line at 4-1 and Mike Smith has the assignment for Doug O’Neill. Completing the field are Calf Moon Bay, who tries stakes company following back-to-back wins over maiden and entry-level allowance foes; and Golden Gate stakes winner and Santa Ynez third-placer Tomlin.
The Las Virgenes serves as the first of three stakes on the 11-race program.
In the $200,000 San Marcos (G2), 13 horses will square off in the 1 1/4-mile turf affair. Multiple stakes winner Dabster, who exits a third in the San Antonio (G2), will be one to beat if he makes a smooth transition to turf. Epical merits respect following a pair of decisive wins over allowance rivals and Hollywood Turf Cup (G2) third-placer Beach View fits based upon recent form.
River Boyne, winner of the Mathis Brothers Mile (G2), Twilight Derby (G2) and La Jolla (G3) last season, will make his first start against older horses in the $100,000 Thunder Road (G3) at a mile on turf. Trained by Jeff Mullins, the Irish-bred colt tops a field of six that includes Mathis Brothers Mile runner-up Desert Stone, Grade 2 victor Blackjackcat and last-out Turf Paradise stakes winner Ohio.