Celestine with Junior Alvarado wins the Just a Game (gr. IT)

Celestine with Junior Alvarado wins the Just a Game (gr. IT)

Anne M. Eberhardt

Celestine Dominant in Just a Game Victory

Scat Daddy filly stalked the early leader and pulled away to win by 3 3/4 lengths.

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. 

Video: Longines Just a Game S. (G1T)

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.

Lady Lara came in fourth, followed by Faufiler, Prize Exhibit, Rainha Da Bateria, Strike Charmer, La Berma, Lexie Lou, Tapitry, Irish Rookie, and My Miss Sophia, to complete the order of finish.

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."