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HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Bella of the Ball

The greys are coming out in a force this 2011, and just before the year was about to turn over another silver grey lass put herself on the watch list. Ciao Bella debuted this past Sunday, the 18th, in spectacular fashion.

Breaking a bit slowly, the daughter of Giants Causeway was forced to steady behind rivals, as the field ran up the Gulfstream Park chute. With the pace was moderate and with a half mile left Ciao Bella was nearly four lengths behind the leader in last, in a paceless race. If there is one place you don’t want to be at Gulfstream Park, a very speed biased track, it is in the back of the pack.

Rounding the turn Ciao Bella launched her bid, weaving in and out of traffic, looking like a pro, despite her lack of experience. At the quarter pole, the filly was in third place with only half a length separating her from the leader, but by the time they reached the stretch her devastating kick had her three lengths in front.

Through the length of the stretch she galloped, making what looked to be a disastrous trip and an impossible scenario look all too easy. Under mild urging, Ciao Bella continued to draw away, under Johnny Valasquez, hitting the wire in a temped one minute, 38 2/5th seconds.

While the time may be slow, one has to consider the pace that developed in front of Ciao Bella was slow, making the task of running a quick final time a difficult task, especially when factoring in all the traffic she had to weave through. Instead of being fooled by the final time, one should look at the final eighth mile, which she ran in 12 seconds flat, while under cruise control. The final quarter also was timed in 24.66, faster than the first quarter of the race. This also means that Ciao Bella ran her second to last eighth in 12 and a half seconds, meaning her final furlong was faster than her second to last.

Also, one must be impressed with the closing kick she utilized over such a speed biased track. Gulfstream in notorious for producing big winners that come from the front end. This filly came from last, weaving through traffic, looking like an old veteran, when she was only making her career debut.

It was an impressive start from the Todd Pletcher trainee, adding another nice looking two year old to his army of impressive juveniles, heading into 2012. Keep an eye on this one. She has the looks, looks like she has the talent, and she has the pedigree to give her a big shot at the Kentucky Oaks, this coming May.


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Older Comments about Bella of the Ball...

Agree Florida on Giant's Causeway! Good read by Dead Heat!!
Couldn't agree more, she was ultra professional. Most of Pletcher's debut winners are keyed-up front runners, but was really impressed with the way she rated and kicked home. Also, it was at a mile & you rarely see debut winners at a longer distance like that.
I think if she had a pace to run at you may have seen her mid pack, instead of closing, but I think that kick would have been just the same.
She's definitely going to go the distance. Just imagine if she had had a pace to run at.
This is they type of debut I like a lot, and an added bonus was the mile distance. I love that she closed and rated. I love how well she closed, love how easy she did it, and how she ran on. It wasn't a Christine Daae or Discreet Dancer, where it was impressive, but you saw the horse was being ridden at the end a little, they went w2w, but were slowing down some. This had everything you could want.
Giant's Causeway is turning into quite the sire. Does not suprise me that Ciao Bella did so well in her debut. Looking forward to her future races.
Looks good. Time didn't matter a lot here as the race was at hand. Visually she looked great. See how she does against winners, but looks to be a big time horse.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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