Ohio-bred Joanies Bella upset favored Miss Indiana to win Saturday's Arlington Washington Lassie Stakes (gr. III) at Arlington Park. Under Marlon St. Julien, Joanies Bella completed the one-mile course in 1:39.34 on a fast track.
"The horse gave me a tremendous effort down the lane," St. Julien said. "(This) was her first time going a mile and she got a little late. Her heart came out at the end. I was a little wider turning for home than I wanted to be, but it did feel like I had a lot of horse and I wasn't worried at that point. I did get worried at the eighth pole when Brief Bliss made a run at me. But I bellied down and was able to get to the wire first."
After sitting just off the early leaders, Joanies Bella rallied to the lead in the stretch and held off the late run of Brief Bliss to win by a neck at the wire. Brief Bliss finished a length ahead of 60-1 longshot First Again, with second wagering choice Vicki Vallencourt fourth in the nine-horse field. Don't Ruffle Me, Leeward City, Miss Indiana, Lemon Haze, and Glenbriar Girl completed the order of finish.
Joanies Bella (Mercer Mill--Bello Senorita, by Northrop) set a Hawthorne track record in winning her debut race in late May, then finished fifth in a Churchill allowance race in which subsequent stakes winners Cashier's Dream, Lakeside Cup, and You filled the top three finishing positions. Following that race, she finished fourth in the Debutante Stakes (gr. III) before returning to her native state to win the Tah Dah Stakes and finish second in the Loyalty Stakes. In her most recent race prior to Saturday, Joanies Bella defeated Lakeside Cup by 2 1/4 lengths in the $106,000 Pepsi Bassinet Stakes at River Downs. She earned $60,000 for the Arlington Washington Lassie win, improving her career mark to four wins from seven starts. She is owned by Dan Martin and Jerry Ayres, the former of whom also bred her.
"From the first day we've had 'Joanie', she's stood out above the other fillies we have," said the Ohio-based trainer Timothy Hamm. "We're just taking it day by day with this filly. We'll regroup and see what's next."
Joanies Bella returned $10.80, $5.20, and $4.20. Brief Bliss paid $7 and $5. First Again paid $14.80 to show and completed the $1,289.40 trifecta. The winning exacta combination paid $59.80. (Chart, Equibase