GOLDEN ROD STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 2-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 2 | 1-1/16 MILES
West Coast Belle has yet to compete on the West Coast, but the Tapit filly is perfect in three starts in the East after taking Saturday's Grade 2, $230,400 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Sent off the 8-5 favorite, the Gary and Mary West homebred settled into midpack under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan as Simply Confection battled on the front end with Cristina's Journey and Ancient Goddess through fractions of :23 3/5 seconds, :47 2/5 seconds and 1:13 1/5. The rest of the field caught up to those three rounding the turn and by midstretch had swamped them.
West Coast Belle separated herself from the pack and took over in the lane after going six wide on the turn. The gray juvenile miss kept motoring to the wire as No Fault of Mine finished 1-1/4 lengths behind in second while Heart's Song was another 6-1/4 lengths back in third.
"[She's] a homebred and that makes it even extra special," Gary West noted. "She's always been a really smart filly. Well we've never had any problems with her ever since she was foaled out and the mare just nicked real well with Tapit and at the time we bred to Tapit he wasn't the hot sire that he is today. But we're happy to have a filly by Tapit right now who is a Grade 2 winner."
"I had a perfect trip," Bridgmohan stated. "I just had to sit there until it was time to go, press the button and she was all professional. Very nice filly. I waited until I was turning for home and I asked her and that's when she leveled out, and she went on about her business."
Kathballu ran with West Coast Belle in the early stages but faded badly and was eased.
"I'm not sure what happened with [Kathballu]. [Jockey] Julien [Leparoux] said she just stopped on him," trainer Kenny McPeek said in regards to Kathballu.
The Wayne Catalano-trained West Coast Belle paid $5.20 for the Golden Rod win, which gave her 10 points toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Oaks next spring while boosting her career earnings to $190,446. The Kentucky-bred miss is now three-for-three after breaking her maiden on September 13 at Monmouth Park and adding Churchill's Rags to Riches Stakes to her resume last out on October 26.
"It's always good when a plan comes together, right?" Catalano said. "She will probably go to New Orleans and we got some races for her in Hot Springs. She'll be at New Orleans and Hot Springs this season.
"She gets better all the time," he added. "She's got a good brain and everything like that. So we're really happy with her."
"Well you think about it but it's a little too early to think about too hard," Gary West replied when asked about the Kentucky Oaks. "There are a lot of things that go on between here and there, and we've had a lot of good horses at this point in time and we ended up with a lot of heart breaks along the trail. It's just a matter of keeping her sound and healthy."
West Coast Belle is the first stakes winner out of the Unbridled's Song mare Splendid Solution and counts as her third dam multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire and 1993 Kentucky Oaks queen Dispute. Farther back one can find two-time champion and Broodmare of the Year Misty Morn in this female line.