Receiving a patient stalking trip from jockey Mark Guidry, Bel Air Beauty hung five-wide throughout the backstretch, followed the leaders, and then made a decisive move in the stretch en route to a 2 1/2-length victory in the $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) Oct. 19 on the Keeneland turf.
A daughter of Smart Strike, Bel Air Beauty was a promising 2-year-old filly in 2006, winning her second career start at Keeneland, the Darley Alcibiades (gr. II), before running eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. The bay filly was winless in three starts since then, but turned in a pair of nice efforts in her first two tries on the turf, most recently a third-place finish to Dreaming of Anna in the Pucker Up Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Arlington Park Sept. 8.
Trained by Frank Brothers and owned by Bruce Lunsford, Bel Air Beauty worked up to the Pin Oak Valley at Churchill. Now it seems Keeneland may be her Kentucky racetrack of choice.
“Earlier this year, she kind of stubbed her toe and we didn’t get her started until late,” said Brothers. “I really thought coming into this race, this could be one of her better races. She never really runs bad, but the first part of the year she was a little slow coming around. But things are picking up now.”
The pace of the 1 1/6-mile event was set by also eligible Pitamakan, who left from post 13 under Miguel Mena. The Danzig filly set fractions of :23.82, :48.66, 1:13.36 and led going into the stretch. Co-favorite Audacious Chloe sat just outside of Pitamakan throughout and was also in the thick of things coming into the final drive. Pace stalkers Beautiful Venue and California invader Super Freaky were tiring as they straightened away.
But after sitting fifth for most of the race, Bel Air Beauty was just beginning her best stride in mid-stretch, eventually overtaking Pitamaken in the final furlong and pulling away. There was a three-way photo for second, with the late-charging Bachata getting up a nose over Pitamaken. French-bred Testama rallied up the rail and just missed third.
The final time was 1:44.39 for Bel Air Beauty, who went off at odds of 8-1 and returned $18.40 to win. The exacta (11-4) paid $200.60. The trifecta (11-4-13) was worth $1,010.65.
The victory earned Guidry his third win of the afternoon.
“Frankie always does a great job with his horses,” said Guidry. “They’re always 110%, and she was 110% percent today. I was just a passenger.”
Brothers said Bel Air Beauty, out of Boundry mare Awe That, may get a start at Churchill before the year ends.