Belvoir Bay, Painting Corners Give Miller Strong Hand in G3 Las Cienegas Stakes

(Trainer Peter Miller’s Belvoir Bay is one of two contenders from his barn for the G3 Las Cienegas Stakes this Saturday / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

From the Santa Anita Media Team:

Trainer Peter Miller appears to be holding a pair of aces at 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course as Belvoir Bay and Painting Corners head a field of nine older distaffers in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Las Cienegas Stakes.  Throw in John Sadler’s lightning quick Selcourt, a multiple graded stakes winner who tries turf for the first time and Glen Hill Farm’s homebred Compelled, and the Las Cienegas has the look of a deep and competitive affair.

With five wins from eight tries down the unique hillside layout, Belvoir Bay will likely be in a stalking position early, while speedy Painting Corners, a winner of three of seven hillside assignments, figures to be winging early in search of a gate to wire score.

Trained by Tom Proctor, Compelled, who returns to Santa Anita following a desperate nose defeat over soft turf in an ungraded six furlong stakes at Laurel Park on Sept. 22, comes into the race fresh and adds considerable depth to the Las Cienegas lineup.


Owner:  Team Valor International & Gary Barber

Trainer:  Peter Miller

A four-time graded stakes winner over the hillside turf, this 6-year-old English-bred mare has been on the road in her last two starts, finishing a close fifth in a Grade I, six furlong turf stakes at Woodbine June 30 and second, beaten three quarters of a length as the 5-2 favorite, in a Grade III stakes at Keeneland going 5 ½ furlongs on turf Oct. 12.  Freshened and reunited with Flavien Prat, Belvoir Bay, who is 22-9-4-2 overall, with earnings of $582,167, is strictly the horse to beat on Saturday.


Altimira Racing Stable & Slam Dunk Racing

Trainer:  Peter Miller

Second, beaten 1 ¾ lengths after opening up through white-hot splits of 20.80, 42.20 and 1:05.80 in the Grade III Senator Ken Maddy Stakes down the hill Nov. 3, this 5-year-old Florida-bred mare by Pleasant Strike will be handled on Saturday by Joel Rosario, who will no doubt try to ration her considerable early speed.  Never worse than third in seven hillside tries, Painting Corners appears on the improve for Miller as she makes only her second graded stakes appearance.


Owner:  Keith Abrahams, Medallion Racing & Sandra Lazaruk

Trainer:  John Sadler

In terms of raw talent, this lightly raced 5-year-old Tiz Wonderful mare rates right at the top of the Las Cienegas heap.  A 9 ¼ length first out maiden winner going six furlongs at age three on Feb. 12, 2017, physical issues have limited her afternoon appearances to just seven.  A three time stakes winner last year (two of them graded, the Grade III Las Flores on Feb. 18 and the Grade II Santa Monica on March 24) she was then idle prior to running a distant 12th in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs Nov. 3.  Out of the Open Forum mare Azure Spring, Selcourt was bred in Kentucky by her part owner, Keith Abrahams and has sprinted on dirt in all of her previous starts.  Brilliantly fast on the main track, look for her to shoot to the early lead Saturday under regular rider Tyler Baze.


Owner:  Glen Hill Farm

Trainer:  Tom Proctor

Back from Maryland following a heartbreak defeat in September, Compelled, a 5-year-old Florida-bred daughter of War Front, makes her second hillside start on Saturday.  In her only try over the course, she ran a solid third, beaten three lengths by Belvoir Bay, in the Grade II Monrovia three starts back on May 28.  Lightly raced, freshened and reunited with Drayden Van Dyke, Compelled looms a very plausible upsetter on Saturday.


Race 6 of 9

Approximate post time 3 p.m. PT

  1. Compelled–Drayden Van Dyke–120
  2. Fiery Lady–Heriberto Figueroa–120
  3. Tesora–Kent Desormeaux–122
  4. Belvoir Bay–Flavien Prat–124
  5. Selcourt–Tyler Baze–120
  6. Miss Southern Miss–Rafael Bejarano–120
  7. Last Promise Kept–Aaron Gryder–120
  8. Lady Suebee–Alonso Quinonez–120
  9. Painting Corners–Joel Rosario–120

First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m.  For additional information, please visit or call (626) 574-RACE.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

More From The Pressbox Staff