11/29/2012 2:30PM

Golden Gate: Debutante favorite Ciao Bella Luna has look of a good one


Ciao Bella Luna will try to cement her reputation as Northern California’s top 2-year-old filly when she meets five rivals in Saturday’s $50,000-added Golden Gate Debutante on Saturday at Golden Gate Fields. A six-furlong Tapeta race for 2-year-old fillies, the Debutante drew a field of six.

A 2-year-old Tribal Rule filly, Ciao Bella Luna broke slowly in her September debut and had some early traffic problems before she gamely charged through a small hole heading into the stretch and pulled away for a victory. That race came at six furlongs on the Tapeta main track, as did her other start, which came on Oct. 25.

In that race, she stalked rivals from the rail, circled the leaders three wide, and pulled clear to win by two lengths in an impressive 1:10.62. She improved her Beyer Speed Figure from a 57 in her debut to an 85.

The pacemaker in that race, Marks Mine, finished second and returns in the Debutante. Lovely Daughter, another Debutante entrant, finished third, another 2 1/2 lengths farther back.

Rounding out the Debutante field are Marks Mine’s Steve Specht-trained stablemate My Lil Shamrock, an impressive winner in her debut; French Alps, 2 for 2 in her career and like Lovely Daughter trained by Jerry Hollendorfer; and Power of Ten, coming off a starter allowance victory.

Though she’s still a bit green, Ciao Bella Luna has plenty of talent. Equally important, she seems to have heart, and that is a tough combination to beat.

“She trained like a racehorse,” said Ciao Bella Luna’s trainer, Dennis Patterson. “But you have to go out and do it. She’s run to expectations.”

Patterson especially liked the way the filly won her debut.

“She got a lot of experience out of that race,” he said.

“She’s been training great. We mapped out a schedule for her, and she’s stayed on schedule. She’s stayed healthy and happy so far. We’re going into the race with a lot of confidence. It will take a very nice horse to beat her.”

Specht doesn’t disagree with Patterson’s assessment, but he hopes Marks Mine and My Lil Shamrock might be the very nice horses that can hand Ciao Bella Luna her first defeat.

“Marks Mine is a speed filly,” said Specht. “She likes the front end. If she gets to the front, she’s pretty tough.

“Ciao Bella Luna beat her fair and square, although their race was on a Thursday, and speed doesn’t seem to hold up as well early in the week after the track has been dug up.”

My Lil Shamrock also has speed, but Specht says she will be rated in the Debutante.

“We’ve been trying to settle her down so that she doesn’t have to depend on being on the lead,” he said. “But she won’t be far back.”