- Road to the Kentucky Derby
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Ciao Bella Luna shines bright in Beaumont
Ciao Bella Luna bid her rivals "hello and goodbye" in Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 Beaumont over Keeneland's Polytrack with jockey Joel Rosario aboard. The Jerry Hollendorfer pupil came running on the outside to sail past pacesetter Magical Moon for the 2 1/2-length victory.
Rosario settled Ciao Bella Luna into seventh early as Magical Moon took over from Allaboutcaroline through an opening quarter in :22 4/5. The leader proceeded to set a half-mile in :46 before finding company in both Allaboutcaroline, who had maintained a close stalking spot, and Ciao Bella Luna rounding the turn. Allaboutcaroline couldn't keep pace and eventually faded to seventh, but Ciao Bella Luna pinned her ears and ran down Magical Moon to finish about seven furlongs on Keeneland's Beard course in 1:26 4/5.
"I got a perfect trip. Turning for home, I knew she had plenty left. She did good today," Rosario remarked.
Sent off the 7-1 fourth choice in the 11-filly field, Ciao Bella Luna paid out $16.60, $7 and $4.40 while receiving 20 points toward a spot in the Kentucky Oaks starting gate on the new qualifying system. The Beaumont was the only wildcard race on the new Road to the Kentucky Oaks points system and awarded points on a 20-8-4-2 basis.
The filly will need to be supplemented to the race if her connections decide to run as she was not among the original nominees.
Magical Moon was game in defeat, holding second by 2 3/4 lengths over 2-1 favorite Judy in Disguise, who was bringing a perfect two-for-two U.S. mark into the race.
"We had a perfect trip. She broke sharp and put herself right in the race," said Magical Moon's rider, Brian Hernandez Jr. "Turning for home, I thought I was on the winner. But that other filly (Ciao Bella Luna) ran a tremendous race."
"When she broke slow, it cost me. That was the race for me," stated Mike Smith, who was aboard Judy in Disguise. "She stood too good, and it caused me to get away a little slow."
Fearless Jacq followed in fourth, while Premier Steps, Irish Presence, Allaboutcaroline, Renee's Titan, My Special J's, Cash is Queen and Lady Banks rounded out the order of finish. Cash is Queen was done before the first furlong was even run after ducking toward and bouncing off the inner rail.
"My filly ducked right toward the gap and bounced right off the fence (shortly after the start). Young horses will do that sometimes," her rider, Robby Albarado, explained philosophically.
Ciao Bella Luna improved her record to 3-1-0 from six career starts by taking her first stakes win in the Beaumont. The bay daughter of Tribal Rule captured her initial two races last year on Golden Gate Fields' synthetic Tapeta before running second in the Golden Gate Debutante on December 1. That marked her final start for trainer Dennis Patterson, and she next found herself in Bret Calhoun's shedrow.
The Kentucky-bred miss made her sophomore debut under Calhoun's tutelage on January 19, but didn't offer much when a well-beaten ninth of 10 in the Silverbulletday on Fair Grounds' dirt track. Ciao Bella Luna was then shipped to California and Hollendorfer, who tried her on the turf in the China Doll at Santa Anita. That resulted in a seventh-placing, but the filly got on the winning track once moved back to a synthetic track in the Beaumont.
"She shipped (to Keeneland from California) beautifully. She settled right in, and she's been very comfortable," assistant trainer Christina Jelm said. "It's been great to get her back on the synthetic surface. Jerry and racing manager Mark Cornett have found her niche, I think."
Bred by Dennis and Carol Yokum, Ciao Bella Luna didn't reach her reserve when only attracting a $6,500 bid as a Keeneland January yearling but has now earned $145,180 in lifetime earnings for owners Campbell, Car-Den Racing Stable and Greenwood Lodge et al.
Ciao Bella Luna is the first registered stakes scorer out of the winning Conquistador Cielo mare Shadow of the Moon, and this female line has also produced champion handicap mare Tempted, Grade 1 victress Broom Dance, Grade 3-scoring sire End Sweep and multiple Grade 1 heroine Lazy Slusan, who is herself the dam of Saturday's Madison winner Last Full Measure.
Ciao Bella Luna's and Last Full Measure's fourth dams are half-sisters, being out of the Lovely Night mare Enchanted Eve.