Celestine has displayed a devastating combination in her last two starts—early speed and a tremendous turn of foot.
The $700,000 Just a Game (gr. IT) June 11 at Belmont Park was just the latest example as James Bryan Jr.'s 4-year-old Scat Daddy filly raced just off early leader and 44-1 longshot La Berma in the mile turf test, breezed by in the far turn, and pulled away to win by 3 3/4 widening lengths.
With Junior Alvarado in the irons, the Bill Mott-trained filly missed the course record by one hundredth of a second, hitting the wire in 1:31.64 for her first grade I score. Last time out April 2 at Gulfstream Park, Celestine set the pace and similarly kicked away from the field to win the Honey Fox (gr. IIT) by 3 1/4 lengths.
"It was a dream trip," Alvarado said. "With this kind of filly, she has speed and she can stalk a little bit, too. ... She broke very beautifully and after that, I was just sitting on her. I waited until we turned for home to ask her. I couldn't ask for a better trip than that. It was like everything was just going perfect."
La Berma showed the way with fractions of :23.36, :46.13, and 1:09.63 through six furlongs while Celestine stalked between a length and two lengths off the pace, but at the top of the stretch, the winner already had a 2 1/2-length advantage and extended it to the wire. Recepta rallied to finish a clear second, a length ahead of Mrs McDougal.
"The first three strides, when I asked her to run, I said, 'This is over,' " Alvarado said. "There was no way any horse could be running faster than her. I just got her home. She carried me all the way to the wire today."
Celestine paid $17, $8.50, and $5.70 across the board. Recepta brought $5.40 and $3.90, and Mrs McDougal, the tepid 7-2 favorite, delivered $3.60 to show.
Bred in Kentucky by Phoenix Rising Farms out of the Monarchos mare Mona Mia, Celestine has a 6-2-1 record from 12 starts and $784,755 in earnings.
"This was very impressive," Mott said. "She's gotten better as time goes on."