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HRN Original Blog:
Florida Filly

Profiling the Sunshine Millions: Belle of the Hall

Belle of the Hall began her career in 2010 by rattling off three straight victories at three different tracks. Her debut race took place at Gulfstream Park, and she absolutely dazzled. Sent off as the second choice, she tracked the pace three wide in second behind favorite Galabella before taking over in the stretch and drawing away to post a five length victory. She completed the 6 furlong maiden race in a sharp 1:10.04. She next knocked off five opponents in a 7 furlong allowance race at Belmont Park. Again she traveled three wide and tracked the pace before drawing off in the stretch, this time to win by 2 ¾ lengths in a final time of 1:23.09. The traveling filly was then sent to Parx by trainer Thomas Albertrani. Sent off as the favorite in the Jostle Stakes, the Graeme Hall filly did not disappoint, holding on for a ¾ length victory after dueling through the stretch. The final time for the 6 ½ furlong race was a solid 1:15.44.
 
 
After reeling off 3 straight wins, Belle of the Hall made her next start in the G1 Test Stakes at Saratoga. Another win was not meant to be, however. The filly was involved in a bumping incident at the start that involved three other fillies. She recovered but could not get near the pace but displayed a good kick that helped her get up for the show, five lengths behind winner Champagne d’Oro. Two races later found the filly back in the winner’s circle at Belmont where she won the Catinca Stakes by half a length over tough competitor Catch A Thief. Following her Catinca win, it took the filly over a year to find her way back to the winner’s circle. During the interim time, she lost her early form and failed to even menace in the G1 Gazelle, the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint, a handicap at Tampa Bay Downs, and the Blue Sparkler.
 
 
In August of last year, Belle of the Hall began to show signs of her early form, running 2nd in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes, 4th in the Lady Tak Stakes, and 3rd in the Miss Golden Stakes before running a slightly disappointing 5th in the Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap. Her latest race saw her drop in class but not necessarily in level of competition. Also present in the allowance optional claiming race at Gulfstream this past weekend were Strike the Moon and Catch A Thief. Rather than taking the race in her once typical front-running fashion, Belle of the Hall closed from the rear of the field, her new running style, to just get up in time. She crossed under the wire a half length in front of Strike the Moon and completed the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.95.
 
 
So what’s next for the newly turned 5-year old mare? It really depends on what trainer Albertrani and owner West Point Thoroughbreds decide to do. Belle of the Hall was nominated for the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint, but a start there would come just one week after her most recent victory at Gulfstream. Furthermore, other nominees to the race include It’s Me Mom, Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and reigning Champion Female Sprinter Eclipse award winner Musical Romance, and Pomeroys Pistol. Entering their filly in this weekend’s race would be a bold move by her connections, but such a move is not unheard of. Just think back to October when trainer Aidan O’Brien entered Together (IRE) in the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes run just one week after her second place finish in the G1 First Lady Stakes. Remember how that turned out? If you do not, then let me remind you. She knocked off a top notch field that included highly regarded Winter Memories. We will not know until mid-week whether or not the SM Filly and Mare Sprint field will include Belle of the Hall, but if she continues to improve off of her most recent efforts, then she will be one to keep an eye on.
 
Cartoon by Marcy Leonard
 
 
 

 

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Great cartoon!

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis
  
 

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

 

Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Since joining Horse Racing Nation as a contributing blogger, Ashley writes as frequently as possible as the Florida Filly. Though she mainly covers racing in South Florida, Ashley also blogs about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offers her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. Most recently, Ashley was selected to participate in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

 

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.