Notes & Quotes from the Santa Ynez Stakes: Bellafina

(Bellafina romps in the Santa Ynez / Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita)

From the Santa Anita Media Team:

Notes & Quotes from the Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita on Sunday:


FLAVIEN PRAT, BELLAFINA, WINNER:  “Coming out of the gate, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I knew there was speed outside of me.  She broke well, relaxed and dropped the bit around the turn and then she took off.  The Breeders’ Cup was just a bad day.  She had trained well for Simon coming into this and I expected her to run well and she did.  She’s definitely improving.  She was a little immature before, but today, she improved a lot.”


SIMON CALLAGHAN, BELLAFINA, WINNER: “She wasn’t super quick into stride. Flavien didn’t rush her and just let her get comfortable. She pretty much took him to the front. Halfway through, I thought we were doing pretty good.

“I left it to Flavien today. He knows the filly very well. I told him he was on the best filly. He’s such a smart rider and I hate tying people down with instructions in regards to the race. Just let it unfold and get the job done.

“She wasn’t even blowing and was just standing after the race. She was so composed. It was like it was nothing for her. We’ve always thought a lot of her, and have made no secret of that, so it was nice to see her put on that sort of performance.

“After the Breeders’ Cup, Kaleem said to just run her when she’s ready.  I called him a couple weeks ago and told him ‘We have to run her.  After the disappointment of the Breeders’ Cup, you want to see this sort of a performance.

“We’ve loosely talked about two races before the Santa Anita Oaks and we’ll see how it comes out. We’re in a good position to now and have the first race of the year under our belt. Kaleem is ultra-patient and we’ll just let the filly tell us the best plan.”

KALEEM SHAH, OWNER OF BELLAFINA, WINNER: “I’m here to get to a Breeders’ Cup race. I keep telling Simon that. We went in so confident going into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies but it just wasn’t meant to be. It was not her day. Obviously, she needed to come back and show us what she did today, to validate that she’s amongst the best fillies in the country.

WHEN ASKED IF THERE WAS ANY CHANCE HE WOULD CONSIDER RUNNING BELLAFINA AGAINST COLTS:  “For now, we’ll stay with fillies, but we’ll look at everything.”

NOTES: The winning owner is Kaleem Shah, Inc.

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
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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