01/18/2016 8:21PM

Keri Belle puts it all together in Megahertz

Benoit & Associates
Keri Belle (inside) outfinishes Stormy Lucy in the Megahertz Stakes, with Theatre Star in between horses in third.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Year by year, Keri Belle had made progress in her career. She won a maiden race as a 4-year-old at Aqueduct in November 2014. She made her stakes debut at 5 last October, finishing 11th in the Grade 3 Athenia Stakes at Belmont Park.

Monday at Santa Anita, Keri Belle upset the $101,750 Megahertz Stakes for fillies and mares at a mile on turf to start her 6-year-old year. Ridden by Alex Solis, Keri Belle closed from ninth to win by a nose over Stormy Lucy, the winner of the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar in November.

Keri Belle gave trainer John Shirreffs his first stakes win in California since Blingo won the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes in February 2014. In recent years, Shirreffs has split his time between California in the winters and early spring and the New York circuit for the rest of the year.

Keri Belle, an Empire Maker mare owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, ran a mile on turf in 1:36.30 and paid $27.80 to win.

Solis had Keri Belle wide throughout the race. She was seventh with a quarter-mile remaining, and second to pacesetter Glory with a furlong to go. Keri Belle was fully extended to hold off 3-1 Stormy Lucy.

Solis said a quick early pace worked in favor of Keri Belle. Glory, the 5-2 favorite, set fractions of 22.79 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 46.71 seconds for the first half-mile.

“They went fast, so it pushed her back even more, but it worked out because she was relaxed,” Solis said.

Stormy Lucy closed from 11th in a field of 12 to finish a neck in front of 6-1 Theatre Star. Jockey Kent Desormeaux said a slow start cost Stormy Lucy in the Megahertz for the second consecutive race. She was beaten a neck in the Grade 3 Robert Frankel Stakes on turf on Dec. 27.

“The last two defeats she’s been shuffled in the first jump and that’s been the difference,” he said.

My Year Is a Day, a 25-1 outsider, finished fourth, followed by Journey On, Chaulk O Lattey, Glory, Tiz a Kiss, Gender Agenda, Alexis Tangier, Circling, and Beat of The Drum.

Keri Belle has won 4 of 12 starts and earned $229,030. Shirreffs said that Keri Belle has needed time to develop, and has sometimes had difficulty maintaining weight.

“She was slow maturing,” Shirreffs said. “We hoped she’d fit in there. She ran well.

“She’s got a nice way of going and covers the ground. Sometimes, she’s been unlucky or it hasn’t been her afternoon. Today, she put it all together.”