RUIDOSO DOWNS -- Dana Buechler’s Bella Anatola made a winning move over a sloppy track to run down pacesetters Bright Town and Sky Rant and win the $30,000 First Lady Handicap for fillies and mares at Ruidoso Downs on Saturday afternoon.
The Frank Reyes-ridden Bella Anatola raced the six furlongs 1:12.55 for her first stakes win.
Bella Anatola, an 8-1 outsider, broke well from the starting gate and Reyes allowed her to settle into fifth position going down the backstretch. The four-year-old mare then willingly went after the leaders on the turn and was three-wide at the top of the stretch. Reyes tapped her and gave her a strong hand ride on way to the expanding four-and-one-half length win.
Bright Town finished second, nosing out Sky Rant.
A Kentucky-bred daughter of Eskendereya, Bella Anatola was making her stakes debut for trainer Simon Buechler after racing in conditioned allowance and optional-claiming company. She had shown consistent form by finishing in the top-three horses in six previous starts. Two starts back, on December 27, she came from off the pace to take a $26,900 allowance race at Sunland Park.
Tricar Stables’ Bright Town won the First Lady Handicap two years ago and came into this year’s running off a third-place run in a $37,700 allowance test at Sunland Park.
A daughter of Speightstown, Bright Town was ridden by Ruby Gonzalez for trainer Sal Gonzalez.
Third-place finisher Sky Rant, ridden by Alfredo Juarez Jr., was sent off as the 3-2 favorite off a win in the $30,000 Budweiser Handicap at SunRay Park. The Sky Mesa-sired mare came into the First Lady after three wins and a close second in her four previous outs.
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