All indications are pointing towards Bellafina as the post time favorite for the 2019 Kentucky Oaks on Friday May 3. The speedy three-year-old filly hails from the barn of upper-echelon, California-based conditioner Simon Callahan.
The $1.25 million race, for three-year-old female runners, is the accompaniment to the 145th Kentucky Derby to be contested the next day, Saturday May 4, at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Bellafina’s exemplary resume includes three graded stakes wins this year alone, including the Santa Anita Oaks in her last start. The consistent daughter of Quality Road sports a race record showing six wins in eight career efforts.
The name “Bellafina” unites two Italian words – “bella” meaning beautiful and “fina” referring to fine, or delicate.
Golden State Horses Heading East for Kentucky Oaks
As the Oaks favorite, Bellafina joins the presumptive Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach trained by Richard Mandella. That produces an Oaks/Derby duo both calling Santa Anita home. The Los Angeles-area track is currently under scrutiny for a rash of equine fatalities earlier this year.
Regular rider Flavien Pratt has the mount on Bellafina. Many oddsmakers believe she is likely to be the 2/1 public choice on race day.
The importance of the Kentucky Oaks is crystal clear. That’s because two consecutive winners of this race concluded their sophomore year as the champion 3-year-old filly. Those winners are Monomoy Girl last year and, in 2017, Abel Tasman, another California-based runner.
Only the three Triple Crown races – The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness and the Belmont Stakes – surpass the Kentucky Oaks in fan attendance. The entire Kentucky Oaks Day card can be seen on NBC Sports Network from 12-6:30 p.m. ET.
Expected to challenge the West Coast invader is Champagne Anyone, projected to go postward at 6/1 under jockey Chris Landeros. She’s the winner of the Gulfstream Park Oaks in her last start.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Champ in Need of Form Reversal
The 2018 Breeders’ Cup juvenile filly winner always commands attention and respect in the Kentucky Oaks. However, last year’s heroine Jaywalk has not yet seen the winner’s circle in 2019. She finished a poor fourth March 3 in the Devona Dale at Gulfstream as the odds on favorite. Then, at even money odds in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland April 6, reported home third, never menacing 50/1 upset winner Out for a Spin
Other seriously challenging the top three are Jeltrin (10/1) – a former $35,000 claimer and winner of the Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park; Restless Rider (10-1) – second in the Ashland; and Flor De La Mar (12-1) – a lightly raced Bob Baffert student last seen as runner up to Bellafina in the Santa Anita Oaks. Baffert is saddling three top Derby contenders the next day.
Entries will be taken for the Kentucky Oaks and the morning line officially revealed on Monday. First preference for the race is determined by a points system similar to the one used for Kentucky Derby hopefuls. For the final points standings click here. The Kentucky Oaks has a maximum field size of 14. The Kentucky Derby allows 20 horses to enter the starting gate the first Saturday in May.