Bella Vita To Bring A Sparkle To The Dirt In Saturday’s Evening Jewel
ARCADIA, Calif. — On Saturday, Bella Vita, who has three solid efforts on turf to her credit, makes her main track debut for trainer Simon Callaghan in the $150,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for three-year-old California-bred or sired fillies at six furlongs.
“I think she’s improving and her works have been really good on the dirt,” Callaghan said. “Being by (the sire) Bayern it shouldn’t really be a problem.”
Umberto Rispoli rides the bay filly, whose three career starts have all come on turf. She won a maiden allowance race at 5 ½ furlongs Feb. 16 before finishing third in the restricted China Doll at a mile on March 7, leading into the stretch but falling a length short at the wire.
Kaleem Shah is the owner of Bella Vita, who was bred by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. and was purchased for $400,000 by Shah at the Ocala Breeders 2-year-old in Training Sale in April, 2019.
The Evening Jewel Post Positions with Jockeys and MLO
1- Smiling Shirlee, Mike Smith 10-1
2- Bella Vita, Umberto Rispoli 6-1
3- Been Studying Her, Flavien Prat 7-2
4- Dim Lights, Asa Espinoza 15-1
5- Bulletproof One, Abel Cedillo 5-2
6- Speedy Gigi, Edwin Maldonado 12-1
7- Warrior’s Moon, Drayden Van Dyke 12-1
8- Florentine Diamond, Tiago Pereira 20-1
9- Warren’s Showtime, Jorge Velez 3-1
10- Homehome, Mario Gutierrez 15-1
Classy Bellafina Takes On Talented Baffert Pair In Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Desert Stormer
Three-time Grade I winner Bellafina heads a group of eight fillies and mares going six furlongs in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Desert Stormer Stakes at Santa Anita. Simon Callaghan’s Bellafina, a winner of the Grade I Del Mar Debutante and Grade I Chandelier Stakes at two and of last year’s Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, will be reunited with Flavien Prat for the race, who last rode her to a close second place finish three starts back in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
A four-year-old daughter of Quality Road, the bay filly was fourth in the restricted Carousel at Oaklawn Park April 25 after breaking slowly from the rail, and was second to Hard Not to Love in the Grade I La Brea at Santa Anita prior to that, last Dec. 28.
“I think it’s just a race you have to draw a line through,” trainer Simon Callaghan said of the Carousel. “Nothing really went right, but she’s come back and we know she loves Santa Anita. Flavien breezed her and said she felt as good as ever.”
Favored in 10 of her 14 races, six times at odds-on, Bellafina has earned $1,452,975 for an ownership group headed by Kaleem Shah.
Bob Baffert will be playing a solid two-card hand in the Desert Stormer, as he’ll send out stakes winning Mother Mother and talented comebacker Fighting Mad.
Handicapping the threesome:
Owner: Kaleem Shah, Inc., Mrs. John Magnier & Derrick Smith
Trainer: Simon Callaghan
Away slowly and sixth early in a field of eight in her most recent start April 25 at Oaklawn, Bellafina’s last win came seven starts back in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 6, 2019. Second as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade I La Brea Stakes two starts back on Dec. 26, Bellafina, a 4-year-old filly by Quality Road, has been favored in 10 out of her 14 starts, winning six of them and amassing earnings of $1,452,975. With four wins and two seconds from six starts at Santa Anita, Bellafina will hope to break sharply and run well over a course she adores.
Owner: Gainesway Stable, Old Bones Racing Stable, LLC, Barry Lipman & Mark Mathiesen
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Most recently second going seven furlongs in the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes on Feb. 15, she was a handy 1 ¼ length winner of the ungraded Kalookan Queen Stakes two starts back on Jan. 12 at odds of 2-5. A first out, 6 ½ length winner of her only start going six furlongs in July, 2018 at Del Mar, Mother Mother has sprinted in nine out of her 11 career starts, with two of her three wins coming around one turn. A three-time Grade I stakes placed 4-year-old filly by Pioneerof the Nile, Mother Mother will be seeking her first graded stakes win on Sunday and will be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith.
Owner: Gary & Mary West
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Although she’ll be cast as “The other Baffert,” Fighting Mad looms a very dangerous commodity off the bench. Idle since a stirring eight length, gate to wire triumph in the Grade III Torrey Pines Stakes going one mile at Del Mar Aug. 17, Fighting Mad was a gutty nose winner of her 5 ½ furlong debut in August, 2018 and she followed that up with a solid one length allowance win off a nine month absence in taking a six furlong allowance at Churchill Downs on April 30, 2019. Now faced with a similar nine month layoff, this 4-year-old filly by New Year’s Day has trained well for her comeback and will get the services of Drayden Van Dyke.
Grade III Desert Stormer Stakes Post Positions with Jockeys
1-Fighting Mad, Drayden Van Dyke (126)
2-First Star, Jose Valdivia, Jr. (122)
3-Mother Mother, Mike Smith (124)
4-Amuse, Jorge Velez (122)
5-Bellafina, Flavien Prat (126)
6-Artistic Diva, Victor Espinoza (124)
7-Tomlin, Abel Cedillo (124)
8-Hang a Star, Umberto Rispoli (122)
Race 8 of 10 Approximate post time 4 p.m. PT. (7 pm ET) First post time for a 10-race card on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. ET)
Edited Press Release
Photo: Bellafina. Credit: Benoit Photos