10/22/2016 3:38PM

Bonita Bianca, Tainted Angel give Rodriguez exacta in Maid of the Mist

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Rudy Rodriguez turned Saturday’s $250,000 Maid of the Mist Stakes on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park into his own personal party. Rodriguez sent out Bonita Bianca and Tainted Angel in the field of nine New York-bred 2-year-old fillies and watched them thoroughly dominate.

Bonita Bianca, the 6-5 favorite on the basis of an off-the-pace, going-away victory over statebred maidens in her debut last month, prompted the early pace set by Tainted Angel from the outside. Bonita Bianca engaged her barnmate in earnest on the far turn, took the lead in upper stretch, and drew off to score by 5 1/4 lengths.

Tainted Angel, who was making her first start for Rodriguez after being claimed for $40,000 last month out of a maiden victory in the fourth attempt of her career, finished a whopping 11 3/4 lengths before third-place finisher Bree’s Got Heart, who was an early pace factor. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Iron Mizz, the only previous stakes winner in the field, in fourth.

Bonita Bianca, owned by Michael Dubb, Michael Imperio, and Bethlehem Stables, covered the mile over the sloppy main track in 1:40.19. Irad Ortiz Jr. rode the daughter of Curlin out of Friendly Michelle, by Artax, a $97,000 purchase at the OBS sale last March.

Bonita Bianca paid $4.40 and combined with Tainted Angel for a Rodriguez exacta that paid $12.20 for $1.

“She’s been showing us she could be a nice horse,” Rodriguez said of Bonita Bianca. “We were worried a little bit about the slop. She’s got shins, and it can be a little hard on them, but her father won the Breeders’ Cup [Classic] in the slop, and I thought the distance fit.

“I think she’s going to get better,” Rodriguez added. “She looks like she’s still learning, and she’s much more comfortable on a fast track.”