In a race marred by 11 scratches when switched from seven furlongs on the turf course to the a sealed and muddy main track at the same distance, Belle of the Hall overcame the inclement weather and a racing office mistake to win the $76,000 Valor Lady Stakes at Belmont Park Wednesday.
Sometime after the change in surface had been announced and the bevy of scratches began being sent to racing officials, it was mistakenly announced that Belle of the Hall was among those withdrawls. However, after trainer Thomas Albertrani brought the mistake to the attention of the track stewards, Belle of the Hall was allowed to run for purse money only and not as a wagering interest.
Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Belle of the Hall took advantage of the opportunity and won for the first time since taking an $80,000 optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park in January. The 5-year-old mare also took advantage of being the only Florida-bred in the race as she has lost to Floridians Turbulent Descent, C C’s Pal (twice) and Musical Romance in four of her last five starts.
Breaking from post two in the Valor Lady, Belle of the Hall raced down the backstretch last of the four, some four lengths off of early leader Agave Kiss and a considerable distance from the rail while they set fractions of :22.57 for the first quarter. Around the far turn, Ortiz kept Belle of the Hall four-wide but began to make up ground on the leaders who had now gone a half-mile in :46.00. Turning for home, Ortiz again asked Belle of the Hall for more and she responded by going after Agave Kiss, who still had the lead over Catinatree in second and Mildly Offensive in third. It looked as if the order of finish would not change from start to finish until they reached the sixteenth pole when Belle of the Hall hit another gear and caught Agave Kiss at the wire to win by a neck in a time of 1:23.55.
Since Belle of the Hall was not a wagering interest, Agave Kiss supporters received $4.20 for a $2 win ticket and there was no other wagering on the race. Catinatree finished third, more than ten lengths behind Agave Kiss while Mildly Offensive was another five and three-quarters lengths back in fourth.
Bred in Florida by Leon Edward and Do Little Farm LLC, Belle of the Hall is by Graeme Hall who stands at Winding Oaks Farm in Ocala. In winning the Valor Lady, Belle of the Hall earned $48,000 for Terry Finley’s West Point Thoroughbreds of Mount Laurel, N.J., increasing her career bankroll to $433,170. It was her sixth win from 22 career starts to go along with her two seconds and two thirds lifetime. It was also her third career stakes victory.
Photo by Coglianese