Del Mar racing season begins with a strong start on Opening Day
Del Mar kicked off its summer season on July 22 with a record $23.56 million in wagering and a crowd of 21,680. The featured race was the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes, won by Balnikhov.
In the first graded stakes race of the meet, Irish-bred Bellabel made her U.S. record a perfect 2-for-2 by winning the Grade II, $203,500 San Clemente Stakes on Saturday, July 23 (pictured). The dark bay 3-year-old filly raced in midpack until the top of the stretch, then made her move on the inside and gained the lead past the eighth pole. Bellabel’s margin of victory was 2 lengths over Sixteen Arches, with Island of Love a neck back in third place. All three fillies are trained by Phil D’Amato.
Bellabel covered the mile on the turf in 1:35.32, under jockey Umberto Rispoli.
“We got a nice trip up the rail,” D’Amato said. “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 (Aug. 20).”
Bellabel is owned by the partnership of Benowitz Family Trust, CYBY, Michael Nentwig and Ray Pagano.
Two races before the San Clemente, Avenue de France captured the $100,000 Osunitas Stakes.
Other major winners during Del Mar’s first weekend of summer racing included Heywoods Beach (Grade III, $125,000 Cougar II Stakes) and Irideo ($100,000 Wickerr Stakes).
Racing resumes at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 28.
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