After winning the $300,000 My Dear Girl division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder last October, one cannot blame trainer Stanley Gold and owner-breeder Fred Brei for taking a shot at the next level with Awesome Belle. Not only did the gamble to run the chestnut filly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs not pay off as she finished 12th, but it also started a nine-race losing streak in which her best effort would be a third-place finish against optional claimers at Gulfstream Park back on Feb. 25.
Then Awesome Belle made it back to the winner’s circle on July 21 after winning the $67,000 Three Ring Stakes at Calder and there must have been something about the experience that she enjoyed. After winning the $68,200 Judy’s Red Shoes Stakes at Calder Saturday and the Crystal Rail Stakes there in August, Awesome Belle has now won three consecutive added-money races at the Miami Gardens, Fla., track and has secured her claim as the meet’s leading 3-year-old filly.
The Judy’s Red Shoes was part of four stakes at Calder Saturday that made up Festival Preview Day. The Calder Festival of the Sun will be run Oct. 13 and will feature five stakes including the final divisions of the Florida Stallion Stakes, each with $300,000 purses.
Sent to the post as the 2-1 favorite over 5-2 second choice Frolic’s Revenge, Awesome Belle played the 1 1/16 mile race on the Calder turf just as she had her last two wins. She broke well and took jockey Fernando Jara right to the lead. Putting a length on Wicked Night in second and another length and one-half on Redbud Road in third, Awesome Belle was able to take the field through honest fractions of :23.70 for the first quarter-mile and :49.57 for the first half-mile. Going into the far turn, Jara urged Awesome Belle for more speed and by the time they turned for home, they were in front by some five lengths with nobody coming to challenge.
At the wire, Jara was already slowing Awesome Belle who was still four and three-quarters lengths in front of second-place finisher Jazz with Fine Silver another length and one-quarter back in third in a final time at 1:44.46 over a turf course rated good.
“Once [Awesome Belle] made the lead, she was very happy to relax,” Jara said. “And just like last time, there wasn’t a horse that really tried to come at us. And once she got relaxed, I knew that she would finish the race strong.”
Bred in Florida and owned by Brei’s Jacks or Better Farm in Ocala, Awesome Belle is by Awesome of Course who stands at Journeyman Stud, also in Ocala. Awesome Belle earned $45,000 for the victory which has increased her career earnings to $398,387 and gave the filly her fifth win from 18 career starts.
Awesome Belle, who is out of the Bayou Hebert mare Bayou Plans, paid $6.20 to win, $4.20 to place and $2.80 to show while the late running Jazz returned $7.40 and $4.00. Fine Silver paid $3.40 to show. Frolic’s Revenge never fired and faded to fifth while Redbud Road was seventh. Wicked Night took a bad step coming out of the far turn and was eased.
Photo by Coady