Eye on the Oaks: Aurelia’s Belle


Aurelia's Belle after winning the Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park on March 22. (Photos by Eclipse Sportswire)

By Lemon Drop Kid out of the Danzig mare Aurelia, Kentucky Oaks contender Aurelia’s Belle is the result of beautiful breeding that demonstrates the effectiveness of the crossing of Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer blood. 

The 1999 Belmont Stakes winner, Lemon Drop Kid is by Mr. Prospector’s son Kingmambo and is out of the Seattle Slew mare Charming Lassie, a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to Weekend Surprise, the dam of 1992 Horse of the Year and leading sire A.P. Indy and 1990 Preakness Stakes winner Summer Squall. This breeding resembles that of this year’s Blue Grass Stakes winner Dance With Fate, by Mr. Prospector-line sire Two Step Salsa. The dark bay colt’s sire is out of a Seattle Slew mare.

Aurelia’s Belle is the first stakes winner produced by her dam, Aurelia, who is by one of Northern Dancer’s most prolific sons at stud, Danzig, the sire of more than 200 stakes winners. Her third dam (maternal grandmother) is 1983 Broodmare of the Year Courtly Dee, who produced seven group or graded stakes winners.

Although this filly has a commendable record on dirt, it is notable she has only won on synthetic surfaces and her wins came against easier opposition than many of her Kentucky Oaks rivals. Regardless, she could certainly be a factor in this year’s running of the Kentucky Oaks.

Aurelia’s Belle made her first start for owner James Miller in October at Keeneland’s fall meet.  She became a winner at first asking, taking the six-furlong race on the synthetic Polytrack surface by a head over Kala Ryan. With Channing Hill aboard, the Lemon Drop Kid daughter was in seventh through the opening quarter-mile, but moved up to fourth at the half-mile mark. Racing four wide, she wore down the pacemaking Kala Ryan in the stretch to win with a final time of 1:11.04.

Despite her promising debut, Aurelia’s Belle did not start again until January. She returned in the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream Park, where she crossed the finish line a well-beaten third behind Sweet Whiskey and Co Cola.

Later that month, the Wayne Catalano trainee was tested at Gulfstream at the Grade 2 level in the Forward Gal Stakes.  In this race, she would stretch out an additional eighth of a mile to the seven-furlong distance and raced three wide, close to Onlyforyou’s quick pace through fractions of :22.65 for the opening quarter-mile and :45.33 for the half-mile. Aurelia’s Belle could not catch Onlyforyou and was the runner-up, beaten by 2 ¾ lengths.

Aurelia’s Belle returned a month later in Gulfstream’s Davona Dale Stakes, a Grade 2 race in which she would face Onlyforyou a second time.  In this 1 1/16-mile event, she raced in third through a half-mile in :47.23, but remained in this position crossing the finish line behind Onlyforyou and House Rules.  Onlyforyou’s margin over Aurelia’s Belle matched their previous face-off at 2 ¾ lengths.

In late March, Aurelia’s Belle returned to her winning ways. She shipped to Turfway Park for the Grade 3 Pure Romance Bourbonette Oaks, where she faced 10 other fillies on Turfway’s all-weather surface. As the second betting choice, she gradually moved up from midfield. Aurelia’s Belle pushed out from between horses to make her bid four paths wide. In the final furlong, she took over the lead and won by 2 ¼ lengths, completing the one-mile race in a time of 1:38.99 and punching her ticket to the Kentucky Oaks. 


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