Following up on her breakout performance in the Test S. (G1) versus three-year-old fillies, Bella Sofia blitzed older distaffers in Sunday’s $232,500 Gallant Bloom H. (G2) at Belmont Park. Now the once-beaten sophomore is eyeing the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), and a clash with defending champion Gamine.
The 2-5 favorite against just three rivals, Bella Sofia dashed straight to the lead from her rail post. Lady Rocket took a nosedive next door in post 2, but scrambled to chase Bella Sofia through fractions of :22.46 and :45.40. Lake Avenue, regarded as Bella Sofia’s top opponent at odds of 2.25-1, raced a few lengths further back and lost ground from there.
Bella Sofia was still breezing under Luis Saez leaving the far turn, when Lady Rocket began to come under pressure. Spurting away at the top of the lane, Bella Sofia imposed her will by 3 1/2 lengths. The Rudy Rodriguez pupil crossed the wire, in hand, while completing 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.69.
Lady Rocket tried every step in second, drawing nine lengths clear of a lackluster Lake Avenue. Don’t Call Me Mary trailed at every call, and Honor Way was withdrawn.
Racing for the partnership of Michael Imperio, Medallion Racing, Sofia Soares, Vincent Scuderi, and Parkland Thoroughbreds, Bella Sofia sports a mark of 5-4-1-0, $542,600. The bay crushed her career debut here May 6 by 11 1/4 lengths and immediately stepped up to stakes company in the June 6 Jersey Girl. A bobbling start contributed to her lone loss, but she rebounded with a 6 1/2-length Belmont allowance victory July 11. That set her up for the Aug. 7 Test at Saratoga, where she won the speed war and drew off.
Both Saez and Rodriguez offered the same comment to NYRA publicity:
“She’s very special.”
Saez noted that Bella Sofia always displayed top-drawer talent.
“From day one when I rode her and broke her maiden here, she gave me a feeling she’s a Grade 1 winner,” her jockey said. “In the Test, she proved she can really run, and today was easy for her.
“She finished up strong and did it easy. I had a lot of horse.”
“Luis and I talked before the race,” Rodriguez revealed, “and if someone else wanted the lead, we’d let them go, but she’s so quick out of the gate. The one time we got beat (in the Jersey Girl), she stumbled out of the gate bad. I don’t think she necessarily needs to be on the lead, but when you have this type of horse, you have to take advantage of it.
“I just try to enjoy the ride.”
Bred by Two Tone Farms in Kentucky, Bella Sofia was a bargain $20,000 buy at last year’s OBS Summer Sale. She is the first North American graded winner for her sire, Awesome Patriot, who is a full brother to Oxbow. Bella Sofia’s dam, the multiple stakes-placed Consolidator mare Love Contract, comes from the family of Grade 1 turf queen Hot Cha Cha.