Bortolazzo Stable's Bellavais finally added graded stakes winner to her résumé Jan. 12 when she scored a decisive 3 1/2-length win in the Marshua's River Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park.
In just her third start in graded company, 5-year-old Bellavais took full advantage of her position on the rail Saturday, breaking alertly in the field of eight older fillies and mares. Running at an unhurried pace under jockey Javier Castellano, Bellavais settled in fourth as I'm Betty G shot forward for the early lead.
Hustled to the front by Irad Ortiz Jr., I'm Betty G showed the way and set fractions of :24.07, :48.34, and 1:12.04 through six furlongs, followed closely on the outside by La Signare.
With her lead dwindling to a half-length as they entered the stretch, I'm Betty G fought to hold off a late challenge from La Signare at the quarter pole just as Bellavais made her move.
Boxed in briefly with furlongs to run, Bellavais hugged the rail and slipped past her competition in deep stretch, kicked clear of the dueling leaders, and crossed the wire well clear of her rivals. Final time for the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf was 1:41.98.
"I loved the way she was training coming into the race," said the mare's trainer, Todd Pletcher. "She drew the rail, and Javier's plan was to try to save ground and maybe tip out at some point, but a hole opened up and she shot through it like a star."
I'm Betty G held for second, followed by Valedictorian, Bombshell, Hogans Holiday, La Signare, Rose Tree, and Monte Crista to complete the order of finish.
The race gave Castellano a sweep of the two stakes on Saturday's card. The Hall of Fame jockey took the Tropical Turf Stakes (G3T) aboard Doctor Mountyearlier in the day.
"This is why you work hard, to have a day like this. Everything was good today," Castellano said. "Before the race, I thought the horse might be better on the outside, but the hole opened. Those kinds of things you just have to use your best judgment, and it worked out perfect."
It was the third win in four years for both Castellano and Pletcher, who took back-to-back renewals of the race in 2016 and 2017 with Sandiva.
A daughter of Tapit , Bellavais was bred in Kentucky by Phillips Racing Partnership out of the Ghostzapper mare La Cloche. She was purchased for $485,000 by agent Steven Young from the Darby Dan Farm consignment to the 2018 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale.
Bellavais improved her record to 5-2-2 from 14 starts, with earnings of $340,720.