Team Valor International and Gary Barber's Belvoir Bay, like many from the barn of trainer Peter Miller, has found a sweet spot sprinting on the grass, particularly down the Santa Anita Park hillside turf course.
The 5-year-old Equiano mare earned her third stakes win over the unique course April 29 with a two-length victory in the $100,000 San Simeon Stakes (G3T).
After the scratch of morning-line favorite and Barber-owned stablemate Conquest Tsunami, the pace scenario of the about 6 1/2-furlong race appeared to be in question. When speedy favorite Coniah stumbled slightly at the start, Belvoir Bay took full advantage under jockey Tyler Baze.
After a duel for the lead, albeit through a relatively soft first quarter (:22.13) for a stakes, Belvoir Bay easily shrugged off early challenger Mongolian Saturday and was never seriously challenged in the stretch. The final time was 1:12.37.
"When Coniah stumbled, I just kinda let the reins dangle, and she took me up inside (Mongolian Saturday) and she was real comfortable," Baze said of Belvoir Bay's first start against males in the U.S. "She's a nice filly. I found out last time (in her Mizdirection Stakes win), you can't take hold of her because she'll throw her head. The way it worked out today, she was free running, and when we hit the dirt (crossover), she was really running."
Coniah, who stalked the early pacesetters in tandem with Miss Julia Star, finished a clear second, 1 1/4 lengths in front of fellow graded winner Isotherm, who closed from last in the six-horse field. Anatolian Heat, Miss Julia Star, and Mongolian Saturday completed the order of finish.
It was the fourth straight last-place finish for Mongolian Saturday, the 2015 TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) winner. The 8-year-old Any Given Saturday gelding was last of 12 in the 2017 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, last of four in the Feb. 3 Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) on dirt, and last of eight in the Feb. 19 Lost in the Fog Stakes on synthetic.
The San Simeon was Belvoir Bay's third grade 3 win. She won the Torrey Pines Stakes (G3) on dirt at Del Mar in 2016 and the 2017 Senator Ken Maddy Stakes (G3T) sprinting on turf at Del Mar. Bred in England, out of the Rock of Gibraltar mare Path of Peace, Belvoir Bay has a 8-3-2 record from 19 starts and $438,361 in earnings.
"She's one of my all-time favorites," Miller said. "She's not very big—not very wide—but she's got a heart the size of the San Gabriel Mountains."