by Jeremy Balan
While there may still be a question as to if she’s the best 3-year-old filly in the country, there’s no doubt how Bellafina ranks among the West Coast contingent after the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks (G1) Saturday.
A wide trip took no toll on Kaleem Shah’s daughter of Quality Road in the Santa Anita Oaks, as the Simon Callaghan-trained filly easily put away her three other rivals late in the second turn of the 1 1/16-mile test and dominated the rest of the way to win by 5 1/4 lengths.
The victory was her fifth straight graded stakes victory in the Golden State since August, with her only loss during that stretch a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs, where she’s scheduled to return for the Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 3.
The Bob Baffert-trained challengers
Flor de La Mar and Chasing Yesterday–alternated on the lead through six furlongs, but were no match for Bellafina when she made her move. Four wide through the first turn and three wide through the second, Bellafina kicked away at the top of the lane, finished off the distance in 1:45.47, and paid $2.60 to win.
A two-time grade 1 winner at 2, Bellafina earned her first top-level victory as a 3-year-old Saturday at Santa Anita Park and also pushed her purse earnings past $1 million. She kicked off her 2019 campaign with an 8 1/2-length victory in the Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) and edged Enaya Alrabb by three-quarters of a length in the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) in her last start, two months prior to the Santa Anita Oaks.
Flor de La Mar held second, 3 1/2 lengths in front of her stablemate Chasing Yesterday, who won the Sunland Park Oaks March 24.
With the 100 points earned for winning the Santa Anita Oaks, Bellafina rocketed to the top of Kentucky Oaks leader-board with 134 points. Chasing Yesterday is sixth on the list with 60 points and Flor de La Mar moved up to 15th with 40 points.
Royal Heroine Stakes
Later on the card former claimer Vasilika continued her roll through the Southern California turf ranks in the Royal Heroine Stakes (G2). The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Skipshot mare cruised to the wire 2 3/4 lengths ahead of an overmatched field to win her sixth graded stakes in her last seven tries. She’s also won 11 of her last 12 starts overall.