In her first start on dirt after eight races on grass, the English-bred Equiano filly owned by Team Valor International and Gary Barber broke best on the outside in a scratch-shortened field of five, moved to the front, and never relented to win the mile event.
After a poor start for speedy longshot Nine Point Nine, the Peter Miller-trained Belvoir Bay opened up a clear lead with heavily favored Bellamentary in a stalking position.
The front-runner set fractions of :23.63, :47.03, and 1:11.13 through six furlongs, but the favorite put the pressure on and moved alongside Belvoir Bay in the turn. Under steady handling from jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr., however, Belvoir Bay never let Bellamentary by and kicked away in the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths. She's a Warrior came in third, another two lengths back, and Nine Point Nine and Kay Kay completed the order of finish.
"We were going to lay back a little bit, but she broke so well that I just let her go on with it," Arroyo said. "I worked her twice recently and the last time, she was really impressive. She ran to that work today."
The winner hit the wire in 1:36.56 and paid $17.60, $4.80, and $3.20 as the 7-1 fourth choice. Bellamentary, off at 3-5, paid $2.60 and $2.10, and She's a Warrior delivered $2.40 to show.
"I was going to scratch her today," Miller said. "I thought Enola Gray was unbeatable. ... When (Enola Gray was scratched), that was enough."
Belvoir Bay won her last start of 2015, when she dominated the Dec. 27 Blue Norther Stakes on the Santa Anita Park turf, then set the pace and tired badly to finish 10th in the July 23 San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT), her 2016 debut.
"Her last race was a complete throw-out," Miller said. "I felt good that she'd run well today, but I didn't know she'd run this well."
The victory is Arroyo's first graded win since relocating to Southern California earlier in the year.
"It couldn't have worked out better, especially to win with Norberto," Miller said. "I've been a big supporter of him since he's come back."
Belvoir Bay was bred by Mrs. R. D. Peacock, out of the Rock of Gibraltar mare Path of Peace. She has a 4-1-0 record from nine starts and $149,176 in earnings.