Cinderella’s Dream Rings ‘Belle’ In Bel Oaks 

July 6, 2024

Godolphin’s Cinderella’s Dream danced the last dance In G1 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational. 

By Lynne Snierson

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Godolphin’s British homebred Cinderella’s Dream was the belle of the ball in the 46th running of Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational contested by 3-year-old fillies at 1 3/16 miles on the firm outer turf course at Belmont at the Big A.

Ridden confidently by William Buick and trained by Charlie Appleby, the daughter of Shamardal made her first start in North America a spectacular one as she stormed home through the lane from far off the pace to run down the dueling Segesta and 4-5 favorite She Feels Pretty at the wire while capturing her first Group/Grade 1 victory and setting a new course record of 1:53.42 for the final time. 

Juddmonte’s Segesta, off at 7-1 odds in the field of nine, turned in a big effort under Irad Ortiz, Jr. to take second, beaten three-quarters of a length. She Feels Pretty, the 4-5 favorite with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the irons, ran her best as well but it wasn’t enough, and she wound up in third by a nose.

Cinderella’s Dream rebounded from a seventh-place finish in the Group/Grade 1 1000 Guineas against top-notch European competition in her last start on May 5 at Newmarket in the United Kingdom. Prior to that effort she was undefeated in four career efforts, all in stakes company, in Dubai and England. Though she had never raced beyond one mile, the distance of the Belmont Oaks presented no trouble for the maternal granddaughter of Dubawi out of Espadrille. 

“She ran a creditable race in the [1000] Guineas really, on ground that probably might not have suited her either,” Appleby said. “Her training has gone well and she’s been based in Saratoga. She came in yesterday and the team were very happy with her preparation going into it. The plan was always to drop in and ride the race that we rode and off the turn, all we just needed was the splits. Once she leveled off there and accelerated, we were pretty confident.”

Segesta took the lead shortly after the break and set honest fractions of 23.79 seconds, 48.96, 1:13.25, and 1:36.33 with She Feels Pretty racing close behind. When they entered the stretch the pair engaged in a spirited battle down the lane but were outclassed inside the final 70 yards by the fast-flying Cinderella’s Dream.

Buick said he didn’t expect to be as far back as he was after exiting post 8-of-9 with the talented filly.

“It was the plan to get her to relax early and to come with a run, but I probably ended up farther back than I really wanted to,” Buick said. “She was posted a little wide in eight, and I just didn’t want to cover ground, but look, she picked up really well. From the quarter-pole, I always felt I was going to get there. 

“She showed when she ran in Dubai in the winter that she has a real good kick,” Buick added. “But I was a little bit impressed with her there because I thought the Juddmonte filly [Segesta] who made the run, she got it her own way in front, she wasn’t going very fast and Johnny [Velazquez] sat in the best position in the race. So my filly had to pick up well to pick those two fillies off.”

Godolphin’s Cinderella's Dream danced the last dance with William Buick up In G1 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational. (Walt Wlodarczyk)
Cinderella’s Dream danced the last dance with William Buick up. (Walt Wlodarczyk)

Appleby said the race set up nicely for Cinderella’s Dream and all worked according to plan.

“Originally, we had spoken about following the favorite [She Feels Pretty] around there and the favorite was drawn outside in [post] seven and had a nice pitch all the way around – box seat there on the wing, and I thought, ‘I wouldn’t mind just being sat behind that now.’ We knew we had plenty of horse underneath us turning, and frankly the splits came and she’s a class filly and picked it up,” he said.

Segesta, who is trained by Chad Brown and is by Hall of Famer Ghostzapper, was looking for her third straight win after taking the Grade 2 Wonder Again on this course on May 27 and graduating from the maiden ranks on the Keeneland lawn on April 21. She demonstrated future promise with her near miss, runner-up finish.

“The pace was honest. I don’t feel like we went too slow,” said Ortiz, Jr. “There was not too much speed in the race. My filly was [the speed]. The pace she ran at Keeneland was 47 [seconds] and she was right on top of them. So I felt like she was the speed of the race. That was the plan, Chad told me. She broke good and I let her do her thing. I was close.”

She Feels Pretty, from the barn of Cherie DeVaux, also put in a valiant effort while battling all the way to the wire.

“Tough beat,” said Velazquez. “I really think she’s better off covered up, but we just didn’t have any cover for her today and then she kind of hung. She still ran a good race, though. It was either I let them go way too slow and they steal it from us, or we put a bit of pressure – it’s either/or. At the three-eighths pole, I had to put a little bit of pressure on, and she ran good.”

Appleby thought the pace set up was more beneficial to the regally bred Cinderella’s Dream than the one she encountered in the 1000 Guineas. 

“Most definitely. She’s a filly that stepping up, this trip was always going to suit her as well on pedigree,” Appleby said. “We were always confident that she was the right filly coming into the race. She’s learned plenty and had a good experience. It was her first start in America, and she can only progress. She’s been enjoying Saratoga. If you don’t enjoy yourself at Saratoga, we’re struggling [laughs]. Thankfully, the results are showing.”

Cinderella’s Dream might try for another glass slipper in the Grade 2, $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Oaks Invitational on August 2 at Saratoga Race Course. Legend of Time, whom he also trains for Godolphin and was third earlier on the card in the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational, may make his next start as well in the Grade 1, $600,000 Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 3.

“She’ll go back to Saratoga and head to the Saratoga Oaks. Both horses will go to the [Saratoga] Derby and Oaks,” said Appleby.

Cinderella’s Dream returned $9.30 for a $2 wager. With the $275,000 winner’s share of the purse, she upped her lifetime earnings to $497,956.

Pin Up Betty, Secret Satire, Buchu, Dynamic Pricing, Sy B, and Fun With Flags rounded out the order of finish.

The Belmont Oaks was featured on the 11-race card which included the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational captured by Trikari, the Grade 2, $200,000 John A. Nerud won by Mullikin, and the Grade 2, $200,000 Dwyer taken by Domestic Product.

Live racing resumes Sunday at Aqueduct for Closing Day of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet. The nine-race card features the $125,000 Hudson Valley in Race 2 and the $125,000 Port Washington in Race 5. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont at the Big A, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com

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