Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
After Aurelia’s Belle lost three straight at Gulfstream Park, owner Jim Miller and trainer Wayne Catalano decided they’d had enough of the Sunshine State. Back in Kentucky for the first time since a debut maiden win at Keeneland in October, the Lemon Drop Kid filly relished her return to an all-weather surface and skipped away to win the $125,000 Pure Romance Bourbonette Oaks (G3) at Turfway Park by 2 1/4 lengths over Sloane Square.
Channing Hill, riding for his father-in-law Catalano, kept Aurelia’s Belle just off the opening fractions of :23.91 and :46.99 set by Stormy Novel. After patiently waiting between horses for a chance to run in the clear, Hill worked his way through around the far turn and shifted to the outside into the stretch. Aurelia’s Belle took over approaching the eighth-pole and continued to edge clear from there.
“She was really comfortable the entire race,” Hill said. “She tipped out and she didn’t even fully extend herself. She was geared down once she left her company.”
Aurelia’s Belle completed the one-mile over Turfway’s Polytrack surface in 1:38.99. Favored Sloane Square, who contested the early pace, ran on gamely to finish a clear second, 2 1/2 lengths in front of long shot Katie’s Eyes.
Aurelia’s Belle paid $9.40, $4.40 and $3.20. The $72,850 winner’s share of the purse raised her career earnings to $176,450. She has never missed the board in five starts, with two wins in her native Kentucky to go with a second and two thirds in three graded stakes at Gulfstream.
The Bourbonette winner earned 50 points in Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifying points, essentially guaranteeing her a spot in the starting gate for the May 2 Kentucky Oaks (G1). Aurelia’s Belle now leads the Road to the Kentucky Oaks standings with 64 points overall.
“She likes the Polytrack; she won on it her first time,” said Catalano. “She got a beautiful trip. The race set up just like we thought. It was a great ride from Channing to get her out when she needed to.
“We liked the timing of this going into the [Kentucky] Oaks. That race looks like the next step.”
A total of 85 Road to the Oaks points were up for grabs in the Bourbonette. Beyond the winner, Sloane Square earned 20, Katie’s Eyes got 10 and La Mejor Fiesta notched five. The full order of finish was completed by Super Sky, Stormy Novel, Zensational Bunny, Shanon Nicole, Swiss Lake Yodeler, Cheerful Contender and Somerville Miss.