Bellafina keeps options open with Triple Crown nomination
Kaleem Shah’s star filly Bellafina is expected to remain in her own division on the path toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1), but connections have retained the option of taking on males. The Simon Callaghan trainee was nominated to the Triple Crown by the deadline this past Saturday, and she’s been added to the nominations for the April 6 Santa Anita Derby (G1) as well. Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, however, the current plan is still to stick to the Oaks trail. “Fillies for the moment,” Callaghan said. “Just wanted the option.” The leading two-year-old filly of 2018 going into the Breeders’ Cup, Bellafina thrashed her rivals in the Sorrento (G2), Del Mar Debutante (G1), and Chandelier (G1). She was accordingly dispatched as the 9-5 favorite in the Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs, only to run an uncharacteristic fourth, and subsequently found to be in season. Returning to action with a breathtaking display in the January 6 Santa Ynez (G2), Bellafina served notice that she could be even better this year. Indeed, the strapping daughter of Quality Road - sire of Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup (G1) winner City of Light and 2017 Oaks champion Abel Tasman - is entitled to progress with maturity. And that’s food for thought. The “Should Bellafina join the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail” discussion figures to gain steam if she romps in her next race, likely the February 9 Las Virgenes (G2). Yet even if the Triple Crown option is left unexplored, Bellafina could be just the type to try her mettle versus the boys later on in her career.