A quick glance at the recent race record of Belle Gallantey suggests New Yorker through and through, but when the speedy Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) hopeful arrived at Santa Anita Park Sunday it actually marked a return to Southern California.
Since August 2012, Belle Gallantey has started 28 times and 27 of those efforts came in New York at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course. Her one trip outside the Empire State was a short—and profitable—trip to Delaware Park where she won this year's $750,000 Delaware Handicap (gr. I).
But Belle Gallantey is a book with many chapters at 43 career starts—20 more than the second-most experienced female in Saturday's Distaff, Valiant Emilia. One of those chapters for Belle Gallantey, a 5-year-old After Market mare, was written on the West Coast.
While plenty of handicappers won't go far enough back in the past performances to notice, Belle Gallantey made a dozen starts in California in 2011 and 2012; including six starts at Santa Anita, In her four main-track races at Santa Anita for trainers Doug O'Neill and Troy Taylor, she was never off the board and notched two wins for trainer O'Neill.
She actually started her career for Taylor at Hastings Racecourse, earning a stakes placing in her third career start.
Now raced by trainer Rudy Rodriquez, Belle Gallantey arrived back at Santa Anita at about 3 p.m. PDT, Sunday, Oct. 26. Her previous two wins at Santa Anita came in a maiden claiming race and a claiming race. On Friday she's entered in the $2 million Distaff after thriving under Rodriguez's handling, scoring front-running grade I wins in two of her past three starts, including the Beldame Stakes Sept. 27 at Belmont.
"She really shipped good and is looking and eating well," Rodriguez said. I'm happy with the way she is. We don't have to do too much with her, just keep her sound and happy. She just galloped today. We just drop the reins and let her do what she wants to do and be comfortable."
Bred in Kentucky by Pam and Marty Wygod, Belle Gallantey completed her last serious work before the Distaff Oct. 25 at Aqueduct, working 5 furlongs in 1:02 4/5.
"On Saturday, her work in New York was really good," Rodriguez said. "She did it the way I wanted her to."
Michael Dubb, Gary Aisquith and Bethlehem Stables' Belle Gallantey and will break from post four under Jose Ortiz in Friday's race.
"We'll keep galloping her a mile-and-a-half the rest of the week," Rodriguez continued. "If they open the track on Friday morning, I'll probably jog her a mile to keep her calm. She's a very big and strong filly and can be very hyper. As soon as you get on her, she transforms herself like a good horse does."