Undefeated Beltene won her third straight race in an upset, when she rallied past Hooh Why in deep stretch to win the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Oaks (VIDEO) by a head at Santa Anita Jan. 24.
Jockey Joel Rosario picked up his fourth win on the Sunshine Millions card, urging the 10-1 shot Beltene five wide coming off the final turn and eventually wearing down Hooh Why, who had grabbed the lead from the pacesetting Dancing Erin mid-stretch and just failed to last under Tyler Baze. Yodelady O, with Garrett Gomez aboard, finished third, two lengths behind. The winning time for the six-furlong event was 1:09.16 on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride track.
“This has been an unbelievable day," Rosario said. "I thought I had a chance to win with this filly because she finishes well. Today, there was a lot of speed in the race, and she relaxed very well and finished real good."
Emmy Darling, the 8-5 favorite in the field of nine 3-year-old fillies, finished seventh after a wide trip for Rafael Bejarano.
Beltene benefitted from a fast pace. Dancing Erin, who battled Ten Churros for the lead down the backstretch, carved blazing fractions of :21.86 and :44.90 before tiring as she approached the one furlong marker. Beltene, seventh after a half-mile, tallied under left-handed urging while getting up in the final couple of strides over Hooh Why.
The victory was the first for a California-bred in this year's Sunshine Millions, a series of stakes that pit California-breds against horses bred in Florida.
A daughter of Unusual Heat out of the Wavering Monarch mare Wallis of Windsor, Beltene is owned by Ron Valenta's La Canada Stable and trained by Jack Carava. Bred by Charlotte Wrather, the dark bay filly was a $30,000 Barretts buy as a 2-year-old last October.
She began her career with a 2 1/2-length victory over $40,000 maiden claimers at Hollywood Park Dec. 11. She came back with a two-length win in a $40,000 starter allowance race a six furlongs at Santa Anita Jan. 10. The Oaks victory, worth $137,500, increased Beltene's earnings to $164,260.
“She hadn’t trained all that well when we first got her," Carava said in explaining why he ran her in a $40,000 maiden claiming. "But she gave us encouragement after that, and she’s kind of stepped forward every race from there.
"This was a big step up for her, but I thought she was capable and she improved enough to have a chance," he added. "She’ll probably run long, and so far she’s done everything right. I’m going to give her a little time off now. She’s had three races right in a row, and her mind’s not all that great, so we’ve got to keep her settled down a little bit.”
Beltene paid $23.80, $12 and $8, topping a $215.40 $2 exacta with 7-1 shot Hooh Why, who returned $8.80 and $6. Yodelady O was $7.60 to show.
Dancing Erin finished fourth, followed by Costa Marta, Spanish Ice, Emmy Darling, Ten Churros and second-choice Leigh McLovin.