Bellafina Headlines 2019 Kentucky Oaks

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By Emily Shields

When Bellafina came to Churchill Downs for the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), she was heavily favored off a fantastic California campaign. She ran fourth that day, but is right back in the same position after winning three California graded stakes from January through April. Bellafina has returned to Churchill Downs and is the 2-1 favorite for the $1,250,000 Longines Kentucky Oaks on Friday.

#1 Out for a Spin (15-1) won the grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland last out. Oaks-winning trainer Dallas Stewart named Irad Ortiz, Jr. to ride for the first time. The daughter of Hard Spun is three for five lifetime.

#2 Chocolate Kisses (20-1) is a Mark Casse trainee by Candy Ride (Arg) out of the very good racemare Brownie Points. She was sixth in the Ashland after she won the Honeybee (G3) at Oaklawn on March 9. Julien Leparoux will ride the $410,000 yearling purchase.

#3 Lady Apple (20-1) won the Fantasy Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park on April 12. The daughter of Curlin, trained by Steve Asmussen like her sire, has long odds anyway, despite being unbeaten in three starts this year. She did run in 2018, but went to the sidelines in August.

#4 Bellafina’s only career loss came over this Churchill Downs racing strip. She is a three-time grade 1 winner, including the Santa Anita Oaks on April 6 over Flor De La Mar, who has drawn alongside her. An $800,000 juvenile, Bellafina is by red-hot sire Quality Road and is trained by Simon Callaghan. She has won her three races this year by more than 14 lengths.

#5 Flor de La Mar (20-1) is a Tiznow filly who is the spitting image of her sire for trainer Bob Baffert. She was 5 ¼ lengths behind the big favorite in the Santa Anita Oaks, but broke her maiden impressively sprinting on January 20. She worked a bullet five furlongs in :59.4 on April 26.

#6 Positive Spirit (30-1) won the Demoiselle Stakes (G2) by 10 ½ lengths on December 1, but then frustrated by being eighth in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) and second in the Gazelle Stakes (G2) on April 6. A solid work horse, Positive Spirit worked a bullet half mile at Keeneland on April 21. She has an advantage over everyone by being a winner at Churchill Downs already.

#7 Jaywalk (8-1) was a monster of a winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies November 2, defeating Bellafina and several others in the field. She won two grade 1 races last year, but was fourth in her 2019 bow in the Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park, then third in the Ashland. She went favored both times for trainer John Servis.

#8 Motion Emotion (15-1) comes in for trainer Tom Van Berg. The daughter of Take Charge Indy took the Oaklawn route to get to the Oaks, running second in both the Honeybee and the Fantasy. Before that she won an allowance by 6 ¾ lengths.

#9 Liora (20-1) is a daughter of Candy Ride trained by Wayne Catalano. She is unbeaten over the Churchill Downs dirt with two wins in two tries, including the grade 2 Golden Rod last November. Since then she has been fourth, second, and second in three stakes at the Fair Grounds this winter, defeated most recently by Oaks contenders Street Band and Serengeti Empress. 

#10 Champagne Anyone (6-1) was a 7-1 winner in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) on March 30 over 1 1/16 miles. The Ian Wilkes-trainee is a daughter of Street Sense, and was multiple graded stakes placed before her most recent breakthrough. She is three for seven lifetime and has only been worse than third once.

#11 Jeltrin (15-1) is a daughter of Tapizar who shocked handicappers at 51-1 when she defeated Jaywalk, Champagne Anyone, and Cookie Dough in the Davona Dale (G2) on March 2. She has not raced since, and is a former claimer after breaking her maiden for $50,000 last October.

#12 Street Band (15-1) is by Istan and runs for trainer Larry Jones. She was a widening winner of the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on March 23, and will be making her ninth career start in the Kentucky Oaks, tied for the most of any horse in the field with Chocolate Kisses and Bellafina. Jones has won this race three times, with Proud Spell, Believe You Can, and Lovely Maria.

#13 Serengeti Empress (8-1) is a Tom Amoss-trainee by Alternation. She won the Rachel Alexandra (G2) to kick off the year, but bled and was vanned off after the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) last out. Last year, Serengeti Empress won the Pocahontas at Churchill Downs by a staggering 19 ½ lengths.

#14 Restless Rider (6-1) rounds out the field. The Distorted Humor filly has been second in her last three starts: the Breeders’ Cup behind Jaywalk, the Golden Rod behind Liora, and the Ashland behind Out for a Spin. She has never been worse than second in seven starts.

The Kentucky Oaks goes as the 11thrace on a 13-race card.

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