Joseph Higgins' Dimitrova, ridden by Jerry Bailey, edged in front in deep stretch and drove to a one-length victory in the $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) over the German entry Walzerkoenigin Saturday at Belmont Park.
Trainer Dermot Weld said afterward that he is definitely planning to enter the 3-year-old Swain filly in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.
Dimitrova became racing newest millionaire with Saturday's $450,000 winning purse, her first graded stakes win. It also vindicated her win in the July 5 American Oaks at Hollywood Park in her American debut. After that two-length win, she lost by four lengths in the Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap Sept. 7 at Belmont at odds of 7-10.
"I had her better for this race than I did for the Garden City Breeders' Cup," Weld said. "The obvious direction is sending her back to California for the Breeders' Cup. She is a tough, genuine filly and we have a lot to look forward to."
The victory was the 21st grade I win of the year for Bailey, besting fellow Hall of Famer Mike Smith's total of 20 in 1994.
Dimitrova completed the 1 1/4-mile Flower Bowl in 2:02 3/5 on a firm turf course. Heat Haze, the 4-5 favorite in the field of seven, closed late to finish third, just a head behind Walzerkoenigin, but did not challenge the winner.
Dimitrova received nine pounds from Heat Haze, who carried 123 pounds and jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. Heat Haze languished behind a slow pace set by Snow Dance (:25 2/5, :49 4/5, 1:14 4/5), who gave way to Dress to Thrill briefly on the final turn. Dress To Thrill held on through much of the stretch before fading to fourth.
Frankel wasn't thrilled with how the race unfolded.
"She was trying to run, but Jose (Valdivia Jr.) didn't ride a good race," he said. "She was trying to run up there and he was trying to get her back in last."
He said Heat Haze would go on to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare turf.
Dimitrova, reserved in midpack while moving up on the final turn, came on wide in the stretch while responding to Bailey's strong urging.
"Dermot said she would be better this time," said Bailey, who got to know Dimitrova in the Garden City. "He thought I rode her well last time; a hole had opened up, so I went. He told me if I could wait a little longer this time, she might be more effective."
Dimitrova improved to 4-2-1 in eight career starts and earnings of $1,047,292.
The 7-2 second choice paid $9.40, $5.70 and $2.40. Walzerkoenigin, who was fourth in the Beverly D in her U.S. debut at Arlington Aug. 14, returned $13 and $3 with Edgar Prado in the irons. Heat Haze, winner of four of her five U.S. starts including the Beverly D, paid $2.10. The $2 exacta was worth $106.50.
"We were in the first pack of the race," Prado said. "When we were spinning home, she really started running. She tried real hard, but a real nice filly won today."
Riskaverse, Primetimevalentine and Snow Dance completed the order of finish.