MILTON, June 17, 2023 – As Bella Bellini bounded to the lead in the closing stages of the mile, she had a swiftly surging challenge from Refined she could not turn away, leaving the Virgil Morgan Jr. trainee to land a 7-1 upset in the $210,000 Armbro Flight final on Saturday at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
HP Mama B planted herself on the point at 55-1 motoring to a :27 first quarter with Adare Castle sitting second and Raised By Lindy in third. Raised By Lindy soon pulled off the pegs towards the backside and swept to the top before a :56.2 half – at which point 1-5 favourite Bella Bellini made her move out of fourth to charge uncovered along the rim.
Bella Bellini loomed nearer to Raised By Lindy coming to three-quarters in 1:24 with Refined loosely following cover several lengths off the lead. Raised By Lindy folded inside of Bella Bellini entering the final eighth, but Refined and Warrawee Xenia began hitting their best strides down the center of the track. Driver Doug McNair implored Refined to the finish and downed Bella Bellini by a half length at the beam in a 1:52 mile, while Warrawee Xenia came rolling wide of them to just miss in third and Raised By Lindy held fourth.
“I was following the right horse right off the bat; I was just thankful Dexter [Dunn on Bella Bellini] didn’t move her to the front or we would’ve been a long first over,” winning driver Doug McNair said after the race. “I still didn’t think – even though I was following her – that I had a real good shot of beating her. She lugs in a little bit in the turns and runs out a little bit in the straightaways, but she does it fast. I just figured once we got out of the last turn, as long as we kept her on the right foot we’d have a shot to get some good money. And halfway down the lane, it looked like she was going by and she did.”
Virgil Morgan Jr. trains Refined, a seven-year-old daughter of Uncle Peter competing for owners Joyce McClelland and Larry Wills. She collected her 34th win from 95 starts and has now amassed $910,228 through her career, which lacked a black-type victory until Saturday night.
“She’s just matured,” Virgil Morgan Jr. said after the race. “She’s always been good, as far as being on the national scene. But last year, she showed up in the Breeders Crown and did some work. She did really good and finished third, then she finished second in the TVG [Mares Trot at The Meadowlands]. So we had some high hopes coming into this year for her. Late, late [in the mile], she’s just so game; she tries so hard. And it showed up tonight.”
In the minor upset, Refined paid $16.30 to win.
Ray Cotolo, for Woodbine Communications