03/30/2013 2:02PM

Gulfstream Park: Rampart proves right spot for Ciao Bella

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ciao Bella and John Velazquez gallop to a 4 1/2-length score in the Grade 3 Rampart.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Todd Pletcher waited until the last minute before deciding to run Ciao Bella in Saturday’s $150,000 Rampart rather than hold her out for next week’s $250,000 Ruffian in New York. And it didn’t take more than a half-mile before Pletcher pretty much knew he’d made the right choice.

Ciao Bella, with jockey John Velazquez aboard, was able to slow the opening half mile of the Grade 3 Rampart down to a dawdling 49.20 while being chased on the lead by Successful Song. Ciao Bella disposed of her early pursuer after completing six furlongs in 1:13.07, drew well clear into the stretch, and gradually increased the advantage over stablemate Authenticity to register a decisive 4 1/2-length victory in the Rampart. It was another 11 1/2 lengths further back to a tiring Successful Song in third.

The win gave Pletcher victories in the first two stakes races on Saturday’s Florida Derby program. He also won the Sir Shackleton with defending champ Travelin Man.

Ciao Bella completed a mile and one-eighth in 1:50.06 and paid $2.80. The win was the second in a row for the daughter of Giant’s Causeway since the addition of blinkers and her first graded stakes success.
“It’s been a good start to the day, a couple of stakes wins early,” said Pletcher, who trains Ciao Bella for Michael Tabor. “It was a tough call to run her here because I thought the race at Aqueduct would suit her well being a one-turn mile. But at the end of the day, she’s 2 for 2 on the dirt here, I talked to Mr. Tabor about it, and we thought we’d just stay home. Just knowing that she’s here and doing well, we figured to take a shot.”

Pletcher said he was pleased when he saw the slow early fractions of the Rampart.

“We thought Johnny would be able to dictate the pace, we thought she would be on the lead, and she rated really nicely for him and had something left at the end,” said Pletcher.

Pletcher said he had no firm plans for Ciao Bella’s next start. He was also very happy that Authenticity, a 6 -year-old mare, was able to become graded stakes placed in just her sixth career start.    

“She got bottled up a little bit behind slow fractions but she put in a big run from the three eighths pole,” Pletcher said of Authenticity. “She was second best on the day, but for a later-developing filly I think she’s made a lot of progress, and it was great for her to be able to become graded stakes placed.”