Santa Anita Barn Notes: Bellafina Doing Well

(Bellafina before the Breeders’ Cup in November / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

BELLAFINA DOING ‘GREAT’ FOR LAS VIRGENES

Recapturing her best form winning the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes by 8 ½ lengths on Jan. 6 after being “in season” during a disappointing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last Nov. 2, Bellafina is Jon White’s 2-5 favorite to continue her winning ways in Saturday’s Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes for three-year-old fillies at one mile.

“She’s coming into this race great,” said Simon Callaghan on a brisk Thursday morning that saw temperatures hovering just above freezing (36 degrees) at 6 a.m. “She hasn’t missed any works and trained really well since her debut this year. We’re looking forward to the race.”

Owned by Kaleem Shah, Bellafina drew in the middle of five entered with the three post position. The bay daughter of Quality Road once again will be ridden by Flavien Prat, who has been aboard in all of her six previous races, winning four.

The Las Virgenes, race five of 11 with an 11:30 a.m. first post time: Calf Moon Bay, Joel Rosario, 12-1; Enaya Alrabb, Mike Smith, 4-1; Bellafina, Flavien Prat, 2-5; Mother Mother, Drayden Van Dyke, 7-2; and Tomlin, Tyler Baze, 15-1.

YA GOTTA WANNA TRIES SAN MARCOS SANS BLINKERS

Ya Gotta Wanna returns to stakes company Saturday in the Grade II San Marcos Stakes for older horses scheduled for 1 ¼ miles on turf. It will mark his first race since last Dec. 28 when the five-year-old Proud Citizen gelding steadied finishing seventh as the 2-1 favorite in an overnight race.

“He’s ready to run,” said trainer Phil D’Amato. “We’re trying something different by taking the blinkers off to try to get him to relax more and hopefully he’ll finish better.”

Ya Gotta Wanna has had 14 career starts, racing in blinkers in his last 13 straight.

The San Marcos, which goes as race nine: Unapologetic, Geovanni Franco, 10-1; Roman Rosso, Evin Roman, 12-1; Chicago Style, Drayden Van Dyke, 3-1; Epical, Tyler Baze, 7-2; Platinum Warrior, Shane Foley, 12-1; Sejo, Flavien Prat, 12-1; Dabster, Joe Talamo, 5-1; Beach View, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Lucky Soul, Heriberto Figueroa, 30-1; Flamboyant, Brice Blanc, 12-1; India Mantuana, Joel Rosario, 20-1Ya Gotta Wanna, Aaron Gryder, 12-1; and Prince of Arabia, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1.

BLACKJACKCAT DEBUTS FOR HOLLENDORFER IN THUNDER ROAD

Hard-hitting veteran Blackjackcat makes his first start for Jerry Hollendorfer Saturday in the Grade III Thunder Road Stakes for older horses at one mile on turf after campaigning in his previous 20 starts for trainer Mark Glatt.

“He’s doing real well,” Hollendorfer said of the six-year-old Tale of the Cat gelding owned and bred by Al and Sandee Kirkwood. “We’ll see how he does.”

Blackjackcat was fifth in last year’s Thunder Road after a wide trip as the even-money favorite. He has six wins and five thirds, with earnings of $590,365.

The Thunder Road, which goes as race seven: River Boyne, Flavien Prat, 8-5; Ohio, Ruben Fuentes, 5-2; Le Ken, Tyler Baze, 10-1; Desert Stone, Joel Rosario, 3-1; True Valor, Andrea Azteni, 8-1; and Blackjackcat, Mike Smith, 5-1.

FOX2 AIRS LAS VIRGENES STAKES SATURDAY

Fox2 begins its “Saturday at the Races” show in two days featuring the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes for three-year-old fillies at one mile airing from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Nine other “Saturday at the Races” shows from Santa Anita are scheduled to be aired, with Michelle Yu reporting. In addition to the Las Virgenes, they are:

Monday, Feb. 18, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., the California Cup Derby; Saturday, Feb. 23, the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes, 12 noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 2, the Pasadena Stakes, 12 noon to 3 p.m.; Saturday, March 9, the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; also, Saturday, March 16, the Grade I Beholder Mile and the Grade III San Simeon Stakes, 2 p.m. to 4:30; and Saturday, April 6, the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Races to be determined will also air Friday, April 12, from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 13 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, April 20 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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

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