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Bellafina is favorite for Kentucky Oaks

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bellafina is the 2-1 morning line favorite for the 145th Kentucky Oaks after drawing the No. 4 post position in the marquee race for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs.

Champagne Anyone and Restless Rider are the 6-1 co-second choices from the Nos. 10 and 14 posts of horses officially in the field for Friday’s $1.25 million race over 1 1/8 miles. Dunbar Road, one of two also-eligible fillies, drew 5-1 odds and would become the second choice with an opening in the 14-horse field. Jaywalk and Serengeti Empress are 8-1 co-third choices and will start from the Nos. 7 and 13 posts.

As expected, Bellafina is the favorite thanks to a 3-0 record this year and highlighted by last month’s 5\-length victory in the Santa Anita Oaks. Trained by Simon Callaghan and ridden by Flavien Prat, the filly has six wins and a second-place finish in eight career starts and tops the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 132 points.

Bellafina was traveling from California and is expected to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday after putting in her final workout at Santa Anita on Sunday. Callaghan is expected at the track on Wednesday.

“She galloped a mile and a half and she looks very good,” the trainer said of Bellafina’s workout. “We’re very pleased with her.”

One of Bellafina’s projected challengers is Champagne Anyone, who is second with 113 points and coming off last month’s win in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. She also has two third-place finishes in 2019 and has three wins and three thirds in seven career starts.

Trainer Ian Wilkes has been pleased with Champagne Anyone’s workouts at Churchill Downs and was encouraged by her post position.

“It’s better than being stuck down on the inside and can give us a lot of options to see what happens in the race,” Wilkes said. “You know the first eighth of a mile, we can see where we want to be and what’s happening.”

Nine fillies drew double-digit odds including Out for a Spin, one of four 15-1 choices. The winner of this month’s Ashland at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, the Virginia-bred filly will start along the rail, and trainer Dallas Stewart acknowledged that she must avoid getting boxed in with other horses to have a chance.

“She’s not going to be close to the lead with this group like she was at Keeneland,” said Stewart, who will seek his first Oaks win since 2006 with Lemons Forever.

“Hopefully, it’s going to be a tactical race for us. We’ve got a great rider (Irad Ortiz Jr.) that’ll get the job done.”

On the outside of the Oaks looking in is Dunbar Road, who finished a half-length behind Champagne Anyone in the Gulfstream Park Oaks. Also eligible is Point of Honor.

Higher Power wins $1M Pacific Classic

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DEL MAR, Calif. — With his top two horses elsewhere, John Sadler took a chance with a couple others in his barn.

Higher Power paid off.

The 4-year-old colt took command turning into the stretch and won the $1 million Pacific Classic by 5 1/4 lengths at Del Mar on Saturday, making Sadler the first trainer to win the Grade 1 race in consecutive years with different horses.

“The second time is just as sweet,” Sadler said.

In 2018, Accelerate ended Sadler’s 0-for-11 skid with a record 12 1/2-length victory in the West’s biggest race of the summer. Owner-brothers Kosta and Pete Hronis joined Sadler with consecutive victories.

“Winning it back to back is a tribute to John Sadler,” Kosta Hronis said.

Ridden by Flavien Prat, Higher Power ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.43 at the seaside track north of San Diego. Sent off at 9-1 odds, the colt paid $21.20, $9.40 and $7.40.

“When we entered the backside he really grabbed the bit and I was travelling really well,” Prat said. “Once the leader fell apart he really jumped into the bridle and did everything on his own, so I thought that was the right move.”

Draft Pick returned $17.40 and $10 at 13-1 odds. Mongolian Groom was another neck back in third and paid $7.20 to show at 18-1 odds.

Higher Power earned an automatic berth in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita this fall.

Seeking the Soul, the 2-1 favorite, finished seventh.

“He didn’t try at all,” jockey John Velazquez said. “No effort. I don’t get it.”

Sadler’s top two handicap horses, Gift Box and Catalina Cruiser, weren’t in the picture. Gift Box won’t run again until this fall and Catalina Cruiser is tabbed to run next in a sprint race.

Not seeing a dominant horse in the race, Sadler entered Higher Power. The colt responded with the first stakes win of his career.

“It developed pretty much the way we thought,” he said. “We thought there would be some speed on the inside and the plan was to stalk. It came out the way we thought it would.”

Sadler’s other entry, Campaign, finished fifth.

The victory, worth $600,000, increased Higher Power’s career earnings to $800,648, with five wins in 13 starts.

Sadler didn’t get Higher Power in his barn until spring. The colt was with another trainer for the first six starts of his career and then transferred to a different trainer.

In other stakes:

– Acclimate won the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap by a length under Florent Geroux. The 5-year-old brown gelding earned an automatic berth in the BC Turf.

Trained by Phil D’Amato, Acclimate ran 1 3/8 miles on turf in 2:12.71 and paid $16.60 to win at 7-1 odds.

– Cambier Parc shipped in from New York and won the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks by 1 1/4 lengths for trainer Chad Brown.

Ridden by Velazquez, the 3-year-old filly ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:46.75. She paid $4.40 as the 6-5 favorite.

– Fighting Mad cruised to an eight-length victory in the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, the 3-year-old filly ran one mile in 1:38.61. Fighting Mad paid $6.60 as the 2-1 favorite trained by Bob Baffert. She’s owned by Gary and Mary West, owners of Maximum Security, disqualified after finishing first in the Kentucky Derby.

– Mr Vargas won the $100,000 Green Flash Handicap by 2 1/4 lengths.

The 5-year-old gelding ran five furlongs on turf in 56.15 seconds under Talamo. Mr Vargas paid $8.40 to win for trainer Brian Koriner.

Horologist upsets Jaywalk in Monmouth Oaks

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OCEANPORT, N.J. — Horologist upset Jaywalk, last year’s juvenile filly champion, in the $162,500 Monmouth Oaks on Saturday.

As expected, 1-5 favorite Jaywalk set the pace until Horologist made a strong run along the rail on the final turn. She slipped by to win by three quarters of a length in the stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Monmouth Park.

Horologist, bred in New Jersey, won for the fifth time in 10 starts for trainer John Mazza. Mazza said he was confident his horse would run a “bang-up race,” but he didn’t know it would be enough to beat a “champion like Jaywalk.”

Angel Suarez was aboard for the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.44.

Jaywalk was coming off a nine-length win in the Delaware Oaks last month. She closed out last season by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies to clinch the Eclipse Award.

Horologist – whose name refers to a maker or dealer of timepieces – paid 12.80, $3.40 and $2.10 as the 5-1 second choice in the five-horse field.

Jaywalk returned $2.10 and $2.10. Sweet Sami D paid $2.10 to show, and was followed by Lady Banba and Stay Smart.