“When I looked at the race, I thought there were a few other horses in there that had speed, so I was a little surprised they let me go like they did,” winning rider Fernando Jara said after piloting Awesome Belle to her front-running win. “And when she broke good, I knew I had to go for it.”
“I tried to slow her down as best I could, and no one came to us,” Jara said of his race tactics. “In some of her past races she would get a little rank on me, but today she was always calm and relaxed. I was pleased the whole way with her; she was doing everything so well.”
Awesome Belle was forced to repel a mid-turn challenge from Montessa G, and the filly responded willingly, opening up a 1 ½-length lead at the top of the stretch and expanding that margin to 2 ¼ lengths at the wire, running the 7 ½-furlong trip, over a turf course listed as good, in 1:30.53.
“When I asked her to go, she was there for me, and she started to run again,” Jara said.
Trained by Stanley Gold, Awesome Belle returned $23.60, $10.40, and $4.20 for the win. Long shot Obrigeta brought back $19.80 and $10.60 when second, while late-running Jazz paid $5.20 when finishing third.
With her Crystal Rail Stakes victory, Awesome Belle increased her career earnings to $353,387. The daughter of Awesome of Course is now a four time winner from 17 starts, and is a three-time stakes winner at Calder, adding a victory in last year’s $300,000 My Dear Girl Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes to her 2012 Three Ring and Crystal Rail triumphs.
Two races prior to Awesome Belle’s turf heroics in the Crystal Rail, Luis Duco Stables, Inc.’s sophomore colt Empire Builder became a stakes-winner on grass for the first time when taking the $75,000 Naked Greed Stakes by two lengths.
“He is a good horse on the dirt,” winning rider Jonathan Gonzales said of the 3-year-old colt, already a two-time stakes winner on the Calder main track. “But I think I saw today that he’s much better on the grass.”
Content to settle in fifth-place through the opening quarter-mile of the Naked Greed, Empire Builder was asked to run a bit earlier than usual when advancing on the early leader Harrison Bay through an opening half-mile that went in :47.32.
“I knew where I wanted to put him early; so out of the gate I was able to get a position,” Gonzales said. “When I saw the half-mile (marker) coming, I knew it was time to go. And when I asked him (to run), he just went.”
Empire Builder made the lead rather easily and quickly opened up a three-length lead on his overmatched rivals. While that margin was whittled away at late, at no point in the stretch was the result ever in peril as the son of Kitten’s Joy ran unchallenged through the wire, covering the 7 ½-furlong trip in 1:29.47.
“At the finish line, my horse still wanted more,” Gonzales said.
Conditioned by Luis Duco, Empire Builder paid $6.60, $3.60, and $3.00 for the win. Musical Flair returned $9.00 and $5.40 when second, while Bellefire brought back $3.00 when beat an additional length in third.
With his victory in the Naked Greed, Empire Builder improved his career record to five wins from 12 starts, with lifetime earnings of $151,145.