Smarty Jones will have to do a lot to win as impressively as Bear Fan. The 5-year-old mare set a track record in taking the Vagrancy (gr. II) by nine lengths in the first of six consecutive graded stakes today at Belmont Park that will culminate with a run for the Triple Crown.
Bear Fan dominated her opponents in the 6 ½-furlong event, setting all the fractions to win by ease in 1:14.46. The previous record of 1:14.51 was set by Confide in 1997.
Bear Fan has really gotten good for trainer Wesley Ward, who owns the daughter of Pine Bluff
in partnership with Peter Fan. The Vagrancy was her fourth straight win, her previous start a five-length win in the Genuine Risk Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct on May 9.
"She's had some problems with her feet, but we've been able to train her real well over the last couple of weeks," Ward said. "Her last work was just explosive. She has been just jumping out of her skin since then. John (Velazquez) rode a fantastic race today. She has always shown immense talent, and she's a real pleasure to be around."
Under John Velazquez, Bear Fan went a quarter in :21.98, a half in :44.68, and six furlongs in 1:08.15.
"She ran an awesome race," Velazquez said. "She wanted to run as soon as the gate opened, and she's not the type of horse you can hold back. She went very comfortably out there. I didn't realize she was going that fast because it felt like she was walking. Then, when I tapped her in the stretch, she just took off. "
As the 3-5 favorite, she paid $3.50, $2.70, and $2.50. Smoke'n Frolic came on to get second, but a distant nine lengths behind. She returned $4.30 and $2.40, and Aspen Gal was third, another 1 1/4 back, at $4.50.
Ward is also the breeder of Bear Fan. The California-bred mare is out of the Shimatoree mare Shezalong. Though age five, Bear Fan has made just a dozen lifetime starts, winning eight. The win put her earnings to $588,150.
Early leader Zawzooth was fourth, followed by Kitty Knight, Chirimya, Molto Vita, Kuanyan and Beauty Halo in tow. Gracious Humor was scratched.