Trainer Peter Miller's Belvoir Bay became a three-time stakes winner down Santa Anita's unique hillside turf course on Sunday, as she fell into a comfortable forwardly placed trip under Tyler Baze and prevailed over fellow distaffer Coniah by two lengths in the Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Stakes. A 5-year-old mare, she won in-hand while getting 6 ½ furlongs on Santa Anita's turf in 1:12.37.
Having faced her own kind in her last 14 starts, Belvoir Bay broke from post position three in a field that was three-parts female and three-parts male. With 9-5 post time favorite Coniah to her immediate inside, Belvoir Bay was able to quickly engage 8-year-old gelding Mongolian Saturday for the early lead when Coniah stumbled leaving the gate.
“When Coniah stumbled, I just kinda let the reins dangle and she took me up inside the seven (Mongolian Saturday) and she was real comfortable,” said Baze. “She's a nice filly. I found out last time (a head victory in the downhill turf Mizdirection Stakes March 25), you can't take too much 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 she was really running.”
The third choice at 5-2 in a field of six 3-year-olds and up, Belvoir Bay paid $7.60, $3.00 and $2.10.
Owned by Team Valor International and Gary Barber, Belvoir Bay rang up her third graded stakes win and her sixth North American stakes triumph, to go along with a minor stakes win at age two in her native England. With the win, her overall mark now stands at 19-8-3-2 and with the winner's share of $60,000, she increased her earnings to $438,361.
“Tyler and I talked before the race and we both thought that Coniah was going to be the speed,” said Miller, who also sent out fourth place finisher Anatolian Heat. “I thought there was also a chance that they might try to shake things up with Mongolian Saturday and send him, so when Coniah missed the break and we were up there with Mongolian Saturday, it looked good to me.
“…She's one of my all-time favorites. She's not very big, not very wide, but she's got a heart the size of the San Gabriel Mountains.”
Miller indicated Belvoir Bay's next start would likely come in the Grade II Monrovia Stakes down the hillside turf on Monday, May 28.
Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, California-bred Coniah no-doubt had front-running tactics in mind, but instead rallied for second from mid-pack, finishing 1 ¼ lengths in front of Isotherm.
Off at 9-5, Coniah paid $2.80 and $2.20.
“She stumbled leaving the gate and that really cost us,” said Desormeaux.
Last after the first half mile, Isotherm checked in third, 1 ¼ lengths in front of Anatolian Heat.
Ridden by Geovanni Franco, Isotherm was the second choice at 2-1 and paid $2.40 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.13, 44.17 and 1:06.36.
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