Jim Miller's Aurelia's Belle earned the second graded-stakes win of her career in her turf debut when she was placed first after a disqualification in the $111,900 Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs the evening of June 14 (VIDEO).
Ridden by John Velazquez for trainer Wayne Catalano, Aurelia's Belle commenced a wide rally from sixth at the top of the stretch and appeared to be headed to victory when the leader, A Little Bit Sassy, drifted out under Luis Saez and bumped Kiss Moon, who in turn was forced into Aurelia's Belle. After an inquiry and objection lodged by Velazquez, A Little Bit Sassy was placed fourth behind Aurelia's Belle, Personal Diary, and Kiss Moon.
"At the sixteenth pole I thought we were going to pass the horse on the lead" before the incident took place approaching the finish, Velazquez said. "She was knocked off balance. She was going to go by them definitely. She got hit and went to her left lead.
"Wayne (Catalano) told me she'd like the turf. I may have had her a little too far back; I think she would have won easier than this."
A Little Bit Sassy, winner of the Edgewood Stakes on grass at Churchill in her last start in early May, broke well in the 1 1/8-mile Regret and sat just off front-running Arlington Classic Stakes (gr. IIIT) winner Istanford, who set honest fractions of :23.40 for the opening quarter-mile, :47.72 for a half-mile, and 1:11.99 for six furlongs. Tepin and Kiss Moon sat third and fourth, respectively.
A Little Bit Sassy took over from Istanford through one mile in 1:35.84, nursed a length-a-half-lead until deep stretch and appeared to be collared by Aurelia's Belle when the contact was made. A Little Bit Sassy finished a head in front of Aurelia's Belle, who had a half-length on Personal Diary. The latter, reserved in fifth, split horses while Aurelia's Belle rallied on the far outside.
Aurelia's Belle paid $8.80, $4.60, and $4 across the board. Personal Diary returned $10.20 and $5.80, while Kiss Moon brought $5.40. The $2 exacta paid $92 and the $2 trifecta $632.80.
Bred in Kentucky by Alexander-Groves-Matz, Aurelia's Belle is by Lemon Drop Kid out of the Danzig mare Aurelia. Miller, who purchased the filly for $170,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2012, in April said he believed she would perform well on the turf.
Aurelia's Belle won the Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) on Polytrack in March, and then finished an uncharacteristic ninth, beaten almost 25 lengths, in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) in May. She now has three wins in seven starts and earnings of $253,747.