Division leaders were toppled and winning streaks were halted at Calder Casino & Race Course on Saturday as Jacks or Better Farm, Inc.’s Awesome Belle won for the first time in nine starts when upsetting Frolic’s Revenge in the $75,000 Three Ring Stakes, while Empire Builder fell victim to Bruce Hollander and Cary Shapoff’s Csaba in the $75,000 El Kaiser Stakes.
Winless since taking the $300,000 My Dear Girl Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes last November, Awesome Belle yielded the early advantage to Sister Pippa through an opening quarter in :23.76 before wrestling the lead away from that rival and guiding the field through middle splits of :47.74 and 1:12.84.
“She broke good and we wanted to go the lead, but that other filly went for it, and I was happy where I was,” winning rider Fernando Jara said. “She started to get a little rank on me down the backside like she wanted to run, so I let her go, but I was a little worried that she wouldn’t finish.”
Awesome Belle enjoyed a clear lead on the turn, but was soon engaged by Frolic’s Revenge, who drew on even terms in mid-stretch and put her head in front inside the final furlong. But that time at the top was short-lived as Awesome Belle fought back resiliently along the rail, regaining the lead as the finish line neared before drawing away again in the final yards for a ¾-length victory while running the one mile and 70-yard distance in 1:44.19.
“She gave me something a little extra at the end,” Jara said.
“When my filly passes, she passes strongly,” Luis Saez, the jockey aboard runner-up Frolic’s Revenge said. “But when she gets in front, she eases up and waits for the other horse. That’s what happened today.”
Awesome Belle returned $13.60, $4.40, and $3.00 for the win. Frolic’s Revenge paid $2.60 and $2.10 for second. It was another eight lengths back to Sinister Tale who returned $3.20 when third.
Trained by Stanley Gold, Awesome Belle is now a three-time winner in 16 starts, with a lifetime bankroll of $308,307.
“That was always the plan, to get her back to two-turn races,” Gold said of Awesome Belle, who had been sprinting much of the year. “We always thought she had the speed to run in those shorter races, but we’ll probably keep the focus on longer races now.”
One race before Awesome Belle ended the three-race winning streak of Frolic’s Revenge, Csaba put the brakes on Empire Builder’s two-race run when a commanding 8 ¼-length winner of the El Kaiser.
Trained by Phil Gleaves, Csaba was always forwardly-placed during the running of the El Kaiser, with Saez sending the colt right to the front through an opening quarter clocked in :24.15.
“He broke perfect today, and nobody was going to the lead, so I let him,” Saez explained.
After repelling a modest challenge down the backstretch by Two Is to Many, Csaba was never truly threatened, opening up a five-length lead at the top of the stretch before expanding that margin through the wire, stopping the timer in 1:42.50 for the one mile and 70 yard-trip.
“He was always comfortable, even when that other horse came to him,” Saez said. “And just past the half-mile, I asked him to pick it up a little bit, and he responded. After that, I never needed to ask him again. He was doing everything by himself.”
Csaba paid $3.60 and $2.40 for the win, while Ravelo’s Boy closed from last to finish second, paying $3.80. There was no show wagering available on the race.
Csaba is now a four-time winner in 10 career starts, with earnings of $122,535.