Will Someone Upset Bellafina in the Chandelier Stakes?

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

September 27th, 2018

If you have a strong opinion on who will win Saturday’s $300,000 Chandelier Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita, feel free to let me know, because in my opinion you can make a reasonably strong case for every filly in this field!

That’s not to say that the race doesn’t have a clear favorite. Actually, #6 Bellafina was much the best in both the Sorrento Stakes (gr. II) and the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) this summer, utilizing her terrific early speed to outrun quality rivals in decisive fashion. She’s the obvious choice to win the Chandelier and earn a “Win and You’re In” berth to the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.

But it’s worth noting that in the Del Mar Debutante, Bellafina ran the final furlong in a very slow :14.75 seconds. Even taking into account the tiring nature of the Del Mar main track and the fact that Bellafina set a fast early pace, such a slow finishing fraction doesn’t really bode well for Bellafina’s chances of stretching out around two turns in the Chandelier. She’ll also be racing without blinkers on Saturday, perhaps in an effort to slow her down as she stretches out in distance, but I’d argue that her early speed is her greatest weapon, so she might not be as effective while employing pressing/stalking tactics.

In contrast, the Bob Baffert-trained #1 Mother Mother will be adding blinkers after dueling with Bellafina in the Del Mar Debutante and tiring to finish second, beaten 4 ½ lengths. Yes, Mother Mother ran the final furlong even slower than Bellafina, but as a stoutly-bred daughter of Pioneerof the Nile out of a Lion Hearted mare, I think Mother Mother is bred to excel going longer and the fast pace of the Del Mar Debutante may have hurt her more than Bellafina. Remember, Mother Mother looked great while winning her debut at Del Mar by 6 ½ lengths, a race in which she benefited from pressing a more modest pace before powering clear in the homestretch.

If Bellafina does take back off the pace in the Chandelier, that could leave Mother Mother on a potentially uncontested lead, and in that scenario she could be dangerous at a bit of a price. Throw in the fact that she’ll be ridden for the first time by the Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, and I think we have a winning combination.

I’ll also consider #4 Brill, who never fired while finishing fourth in the Del Mar Debutante. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro had previously won her debut at Del Mar in impressive fashion with fast speed figures, and pedigree-wise, she shouldn’t have any trouble negotiating the distance of the Chandelier.

Here’s how I would play the race:

$10 to win on #1 Mother Mother $5 exacta: 1,4 with 1,4,6 ($20)

Good luck!