Bella Bellucci Steps Up in Astarita Stakes

Bella Bellucci Steps Up in Astarita Stakes
Photo: AP/ NYRA/ Adam Coglianese
Bella Bellucci remained undefeated after winning Monday's Astaria.
Bella Bellucci showed she had the class to make the jump from maiden special weight winner to graded stakes winner with a strong close in Monday's Astarita Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park.

The daughter of French Deputy covered the 6 1/2 furlong Astarita distance in 1:16.67. Forest Heiress was a half-length back in second, with Speed To Burn six lengths farther back in third. Argentina rounded out the list of finishers after Ghost Wrestling scratched.

Going to the post as the 3-5 favorite, Bella Bellucci retuned $3.30 and $2.10.

Trainer Neil Drysdale said Bella Bellucci will contest the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, according to the AP.

Forest Heiress broke from the gate alertly, and quickly took the lead while Bella Bellucci was content to trail the field. Forest Heiress set moderate fractions of :23 for the quarter and :46 for the half before Bella Bellucci, under jockey Gary Stevens, made a strong move four-wide rounding the far turn. As the four fillies entered the stretch, the Astarita became a two-filly race with Bella Bellucci and Forest Heiress battling it out to the wire.

Bella Bellucci is trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Neil Drysdale for Michael Tabor, who purchased the filly for $925,000 at the 2001 Fasig-Tipton February 2-year-olds in training sale from the consignment of Crupi's New Castle Farm, as agent.

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