Bella Bella Bella ooutruns Tamarack Bay in the Santa Ysabel.

Bella Bella Bella ooutruns Tamarack Bay in the Santa Ysabel.

AP/Benoit Photo

Bella Bella Bella Remains Undefeated After Santa Ysabel Win

Team Valor's Bella Bella Bella raced wide around both turns, then dueled with Tamarack Bay through the stretch to win Sunday's $105,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) by a neck. With the victory, her first in a graded stakes, Bella Bella Bella remains undefeated after three career starts.

Bella Bella Bella kept in close contact with pacesetter No Turbulence after being floated out by that rival on the first turn. Tamarack Bay, who broke awkwardly, raced in third, with Gaslamp Girl trailing the compact field. Heading into the second turn, Alex Solis guided Tamarack Bay through a gap along the rail and edged to a short lead as Bella Bella Bella responded while three wide on the turn. Tamarack Bay and Bella Bella Bella dueled through the stretch, with Bella Bella Bella prevailing by a neck. Tamarack Bay finished four lengths clear of No Turbulence. Maiden Gaslamp Girl was 10 lengths farther back.

Under Chris McCarron, Bella Bella Bella completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.14 on a fast track.

"She had to work for it, she made it exciting," said McCarron. "But I wasn't overly concerned, I was sitting on a lot of horse at the three-eighths pole."

"I thought that, if we were going to have a chance, that was it," said Solis of Tamarack Bay's move to the lead. "I thought (Bella Bella Bella) might get tired with some pressure early her first time going long, but she was ready."

Bella Bella Bella returned $2.80 and $2.10 as the 2-5 favorite. Tamarack Bay paid $2.10 and completed the $1 exacta worth $2.60. There was no show wagering.

In her most recent start prior to Sunday, Bella Bella Bella (Soft Gold--Interactive, by Slewpy) won the restricted Golden Ballet Stakes by two lengths. The California-bred is trained by Jenine Sahadi and earned $64,550 for the win. She was bred by Southern Nevada Racing Stables Inc., in whose colors she raced for her debut win before being purchased by Team Valor.

"Once again, Barry (Team Valor president Barry Irwin) has picked out a good horse," said Sahadi. "He's got a great eye for a horse and I'm just lucky to be able to have her in my barn. ... This was only the third start of her career, but she's real sweet and I think this was a nice, comfortable race for her. She's going to learn more with every race. We'll look at the Las Virgenes (gr. I, Feb. 10). I'll talk to Barry and we'll see how she comes out of the race. I'm the most non-committal person as to where I'm going next ... but that's probably most likely the plan."

Later on the card, Mountain Rage closed from ninth-place to win the $75,000 Hill Rise Stakes on a firm turf course. The 3-year-old son of Mecke completed the mile in 1:36.56 under jockey David Flores.

"I cut it pretty close but it looked like everybody was going (for the lead) so I just saved ground on the first turn and hoped to get lucky on the backside," said Flores. "I found a wide-open spot and when it was time to go at the top of the stretch I was home free. It was a great trip and the horse finished very strong."

Bob Baffert-trained Mountain Rage won the Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) on a good turf course in November, then switched to the main track for a disappointing performance in the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I).

"I'll never (race) him on the dirt again," said Baffert. "That was a bad move. I don't know where he'll run next. I haven't looked that far ahead. We'll go one race at a time." (Charts, Equibase)