Michael Tabor's Irish-bred 4-year-old filly by Val Royal stretched her winning streak to five races with her half-length Gamely victory. She won three straight in minor handicaps in England before resuming her career this spring in Southern California, winning the American Beauty Stakes at Santa Anita Park April 7.
Jockey Joel Rosario saved all the ground with Belle Royale, who ran unhurriedly at the back of the pack with Cambina even though the pace was pedestrian. Belle Royale had just one beaten on the final turn but rallied into the stretch when Rosario angled her to the outside. The dark bay filly then closed with a rush in the final furlong to sweep past Quiet Oasis and Capital Plan in the final strides.
"She came home fast, but she was doing it easy,'' said Rosario. "She just keeps it going. That's just the way she runs. The last quarter of a mile she really turns it on.
"I think she's a really nice filly. I don't see any reason she won't go longer—a mile and a quarter or a mile and three-eighths.''
Simon Callaghan trains Belle Royale. Bred by DXB Ltd., She is out of the Brief Truce mare Kahyasi Moll.
Callaghan, who won last year's Gamely with Dubawi Heights, became the first trainer to win the race in consecutive years since the late Bobby Frankel won with Citronnade in 2007 and with Precious Kitten in 2008.
Quiet Oasis finished second, with a pair of Jerry Hollendorfer-trained stablemates next, Capital Plan and City to City. Final time for the 1 1/8-mile distance on firm turf was 1:47.84.
Belle Royale was sent off as the narrow 2-1 second choice in the field of eight fillies and mares, with Nereid, also at 2-1, the favorite. Belle Royale was making her first start at nine furlongs.
Quiet Oasis, wearing the Paul Reddam silks with Mario Gutierrez aboard, carved a soft pace while leading Wild Mia and Nereid, who was on the far outside, with Capital Plan camped behind them at the rail. Quiet Oasis, posting fractions of :23.76 and :47.99 for the first half-mile, left the rail open for Capital Plan and Brice Blanc drove the Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) winner to the lead as they completed six furlongs in 1:11.54.
Capital Plan and Quiet Oasis edged away from the rest to battle in the lane, each taking turns on the lead as they reached mid-stretch. Belle Royale, advancing into contention for Rosario while winding her way through traffic, was able to negotiate the trip without interruption and swept past to win under left-handed urging.
"I wouldn't say I gave up on the turn (Belle Royale had only one rival beat after six furlongs) because this filly really finishes,'' said Callaghan. "But the nature of this course has been very speed favoring all meet. Because of that, our plan was to be forward a little more, maybe fourth.
"But she's just one of those fillies that drops herself in and relaxes. She's got an unbelievable turn of foot and that is a very big weapon. The big thing with her is she loves firm ground. She's just very, very honest. She's one of those fillies who always gives 100 percent and she's also got a lot of class. I'm very lucky to train a filly as good as this.''
Callaghan said Belle Royale would be pointed to the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) Aug. 18 at Arlington Park, a race in which Dubawi Heights finished second in 2011.
Quiet Oasis, like the winner an Irish-bred filly, finished a half-length in front of Capital Plan. It was 1 1/2 lengths to City to City in fourth. She was followed by Cambina, Nereid, Wild Mia, and Bauble Queen.
Belle Royale improved her career record to 10 wins and seven seconds in 26 races with earnings of $358,231.
She carried 117 pounds and paid $6.60, $4, and $2.80. Quiet Oasis, coming off a win over the course in the Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) April 29 for trainer Ben Cecil, returned $6.60 and $4.60 while capping a $44.40 exacta. Capital Plan paid $5.20 to show.
"She ran really well, but what can you do?'' Cecil said of Quiet Oasis. "A mile and an eighth might be her limit, but we'll see. It's nice to be grade I-placed, but it would be nicer to win it.''