ELMONT, N.Y. - James A. Bryan Jr.'s Celestine made her first start in a new barn a successful one, kicking clear to a 1 Â½-length victory in the $100,000 Wait A While Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday at Belmont Park.
The sophomore daughter of Scat Daddy began her career last fall in South Florida for trainer Bill Kaplan, breaking her maiden in her fourth start and graduating into stakes company with a 3 1/4-length score in Gulfstream Park's Sanibel Island Stakes on March 29.
"She's just a lovely filly, a beautiful filly," said winning trainer Bill Mott. "She does everything right. She's pretty and she's fast. She came to us in very good shape. Mr. Kaplan had her down in Florida and he stays in Florida and I was the lucky recipient of her up here. But she came to us in good shape and we had just hoped she would run as well for us as she did for him."
Lady Shipman led the field through an opening quarter-mile in 22.77 seconds, 45.89 seconds after the half and 1:09.13 for three-quarters of a mile while Celestine tracked the pace alongside 6-5 wagering favorite Sunset Glow.
As the field reached the top of the stretch, Celestine and jockey Rajiv Maragh ducked to the inside and overtook the leaders, finishing seven furlongs over the Widener turf course in 1:21.06.
"Not only is she super-talented but also versatile," Maragh said. "She can adapt to any scenario and I think it's going to bode well for her going forward. Her mile race last time [Sanibel Island Stakes] she was extremely impressive, she finished up strong and it seemed like she can go further, but she also won going five [furlongs] so that's another thing about her; she's so versatile."
The win improves Celestine's record to three consecutive wins and a second from six career starts and total earnings of $141,075. Sent off at odds of 5-1, Celestine returned $12.60 for a $2 win wager.
Lady Shipman, Isabella Sings, and Stella Street completed the order of finish. My Cara Mia, Ancient Goddess, All in Fun and main track-only entrant Noble and a Beauty were scratched.