Bellabel and jockey Umberto Rispoli winning the San Clemente
Trainer Phil D’Amato entered four fillies in the $203,500 San Clemente Stakes at Del Mar Saturday, then watched three of them run one, two, three in the Grade 2 headliner led by the Irish lassie Bellabel, who scampered home late to tally by two lengths under Umberto Rispoli.
The dark bay daughter of Belardo, favored at 3-1 in the field of a dozen 3-year-old fillies, kept to her task in the lane under urging by her rider, who has shown a special ability to perform well on the grass, which the San Clemente was – a mile’s worth. They wound up covering the distance in 1:35.32.
The winner is owned by the partnership of Benowitz Family Trust, CYBY, Michael Nentwig and Ray Pagano.
Finishing second was D’Amato’s Sixteen Arches, who is owned by Michael House, and third, a neck behind her, was the trainer’s Island of Love, who races in the colors of R Unicorn Stable.
Just a day earlier, D’Amato and Rispoli teamed to win Del Mar’s Opening Day feature, the Oceanside Stakes, also at a mile on the turf.
Bellabel picked up a check for $120,000 in capturing her first graded stakes score and now has a bankroll that reads $195,435. She won her only other U.S. start, the Blue Norther overnight stakes at Santa Anita back on January 2, but hasn’t raced since then.
Bellabel paid $8, $5.80 and $3.60 across the board. Sixteen Arches returned $29.20 and $12.40 and Island of Love paid $3.60.
The Del Mar Saturday crowd was 14,092 and the betting handle was close to the Opening Day record of Friday at $23.26 million.
UMBERTO RISPOLI (Bellabel, winner) — “Winning races, claiming races, stakes races, it’s all good. Winning for Phil (D’Amato) is good. He’s been one of my main backers. Winning at Del Mar is good. This is such a happy place; the people love it here. I had a good run with her today. At the top of the stretch she changed leads on me and I had to get after her with the stick, but she got it right and ran good.”
PHIL D’AMATO (Bellabel, winner) – “We got a nice trip up the rail. She showed her class late. They were jostling all around there; luckily she got a smooth trip on the inside and kept going. I give him (Rispoli) a general idea about the race but at the end of day, Umberto’s going to do what Umberto wants to do. It’s been working out so we’ll just roll with it. We’ll run her next in the Del Mar Oaks.”
FRACTIONS :22.80 :46.80 1:11.09 1:23.42 1:35.32
The stakes win was the second of the meet for both rider Rispoli and trainer D’Amato (they won the Opening Day Oceanside Stakes.)
The stakes win was the 14th at Del Mar for rider Rispoli and the 37th at Del Mar for trainer D’Amato.