The talented filly Bellafina is back at home and looking to rebound off a disappointing effort at Oaklawn Park, taking on seven fillies and mares in Sunday’s $100,000 Desert Stormer (G3) at Santa Anita.
The 2019 Santa Anita Oaks (G1) winner came off a four month break last out, shipping to Oaklawn Park for the Carousel but she was away last and was not much of a threat in a disappointing fourth place finish as the beaten favorite.
“I think it’s just a race you have to draw a line through,” her trainer Simon Callaghan said of the Carousel. “Nothing really went right, but she’s come back and we know she loves Santa Anita. Flavien (Prat) breezed her and said she felt as good as ever.”
She has done her best work over the Santa Anita main track, winning four of six starts with two seconds. Her last trip over the main track at Santa Anita was a runner up finish to Hard Not to Like in the La Brea (G1). In her previous start she ran a game second in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
Her main rival appears to the Bob Baffert trained Mother Mother (5-2). The filly ran second in the Santa Monica (G2) in her last outing. She finished behind Bellafina three times last year.
Baffert also saddles Fighting Mad (4-1), who makes her first start since winning the Torrey Pines (G3) last August at Del Mar by eight lengths.
The Desert Stormer goes off as the eighth race on the 10-race card. The race will be televised on the NBC Sports Network, which will be simulcasting the TVG Network feed from 4:00 to 8:00 ET.
FS1 will be covering the Churchill Downs meeting each day. Sunday’s coverage on FS1 is from 2:00 to 6:00 ET while FS2 will cover the racing action from 1:00 to 2:00 and 6:00 to 6:30 ET.
My Best Plays Report for Sunday includes my nine strongest plays from Santa Anita and Churchill Downs.
Let’s head out to Santa Anita for Sunday’s featured race of the day:
Santa Anita Race 8 The Desert Stormer G3 (Post time 4:08 PT)
#3 Mother Mother 5-2
#5 Bellafina 6-5
#1 Fighting Mad 4-1
#2 First Star 6-1
The filly prompted the early pace, came four wide and finished up well while no match for hard Not to Like in a runner up finish in the Santa Monica (G2) last out here at seven furlongs. The winner came back to run second in the Beholder Mile (G1) to Ce Ce on March 14. The Baffert trainee rarely runs a bad one, her last win coming two back in the Kalookan Queen at 6 1/2 furlongs and she has landed in the exacta in 7 of her 11 outings. She owns a solid pace profile throughout with the edge in late pace numbers and she graduated at six furlongs in her debut, her lone trip at this distance.
This gal was off a beat slow and after stalking the early pace made a middle move and then did not show her usual punch in the stretch in a fourth-place finish in the Carousel at Oaklawn Park, beaten 10 lengths. It was her first start off a four-month break. She had run a career top in her runner up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) and then ran a good second to hard Not to Like in the La Brea (G1). She popped a bullet work for the Callaghan barn that is 39% winners (with a +ROI) with runners making their second start off a 45-180-day layoff. She has not missed landing in the exacta in her six trips here with four wins. She should show more here but is going to be a light price.
The Baffert trainee is making her first start since wiring the field in the Torrey Pines (G3) last summer at Del Mar at a mile. The Baffert barn is 19% winners with runners coming back off a +180-day layoff. She draws the rail which may force the jock’s hand, but she is quick enough to be forwardly placed in here.