Nutella Fella Another Stakes Upsetter For Contessa In Hopeful

Nutella Fella | Sarah Andrew

Trainer Gary Contessa, who sprang a 21-1 upset in the opening-day GIII Schuylerville S., brought the curtain down on the 2023 Saratoga season with another shocker when 54-1 outsider Nutella Fella (Runhappy) ran down the field late to take the GI Hopeful S. Monday in upstate New York. Fractious behind the gate and away slowly, Nutella Fella was well back in last as a four-way speed battle developed up front. After tacking onto the rest of the field approaching the three-eighths pole, Nutella Fella was committed to an inside run into the stretch before swinging out in search of running room. Favored 'TDN Rising Star' Timberlake (Into Mischief), who had raced keenly up on the heels of the pacesetters through fractions of :22.19 and :44.89, and was mired in traffic down the lane, was finally muscling his way to the lead inside the final furlong, but Nutella Fella was making eye-catching progress on the far outside to edge past the favorite late while racing on his incorrect lead. 'TDN Rising Star' Pirate (Omaha Beach) covered ground and ran on bravely for third.

“We kind of figured he was going to break slow from the gate because he's a moron in the gate, and I just was hoping there'd be plenty of speed, which there was,” Contessa said. “When they said :22 flat, I was thinking, 'This is great.' Then Junior [Alvarado] went from the inside to the outside and I thought he rode him masterfully. He saved ground when he could and then ultimately went outside and got the money.”

Nutella Fella, owned by Nick and Delora Beaver's Bell Gable Stable, was a first-out winner going 5 1/2 furlongs at Delaware July 26 for the couple's trainer Richard Sillaman. Contessa had been serving as the Bell Gable private trainer since 2021, but gave up day-to-day operations earlier this year and now serves as the operation's general manager. Bell Gable was the leading owner at Delaware Park in 2022 and 2023.

Despite his 2 1/4-length victory, it was not all smooth sailing for Nutella Fella in his debut.

“That [his gate issues today] was a minor incident today compared to what he did at Delaware, so it's a work in progress, but it's a big improvement over the last time,” Contessa said. “When I looked at the field I said, 'This is a salty field, but if you look at his workouts, they've been phenomenal.' So, it's kind of like [Schuylerville winner] Becky's Joker. He had the workouts and the question was, is he good enough? Sure enough, he is.”

As for next targets for Nutella Fella, Contessa said, “[Oct. 7 GI] Champagne to [Nov. 3] Breeders' Cup, unless he throws us a curve. He's going to stay up here the next six weeks with me and we'll be racing in the Champagne from here. I think [he'll get two turns]. It looked like it today.”

The Hopeful lost a potential headliner when 'TDN Rising Star' Muth (Good Magic), the 5-2 morning-line favorite, was scratched by trainer Bob Baffert Monday morning.

The $2-million OBS March topper romped by 8 3/4 lengths in his June 18 debut at Santa Anita and was coming off a runner-up effort behind stablemate Prince of Monaco (Speightstown) in the Aug. 13 GIII Best Pal S.

“I was coming back a little quick and I looked at that field and it's pretty salty,” Baffert told Daily Racing Form's Dave Grening, adding the colt will be re-routed to the Oct. 7 GI American Pharoah S. at Santa Anita.

Pedigree Notes:

Nutella Fella is the fourth graded winner for champion sprinter Runhappy, who had been the title sponsor of the Hopeful for the last four years. He is the eighth Grade I winner for broodmare sire Candy Ride (Arg).

Krissy's Candy, a half-sister to graded-placed Meal Penalty (Tale of the Cat) and Danny Boy (Harlan's Holiday), has a yearling colt by War of Will–who is catalogued as hip 2588 at next week's Keeneland September sale–and a weanling colt by Yaupon. She was bred back to Uncle Mo.

The mare was bred by the Lyster family's Ashview Farm and Colts Neck Stables and was purchased by Mike Ryan on behalf of e Five Racing for $210,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September sale. She made two starts in the e Five colors before being claimed by Stephen Lyster for $50,000 at Churchill in the fall of 2017. She made one start for Lyster and was bred to Street Sense in 2019. Nutella Fella is her second foal.

Ashview purchased Nutella Fella's second dam, 2003 GII Adirondack S. runner-up Unbridled Beauty, for $135,000 at the 2011 Keeneland November sale. The winner's third dam, Dreamscape, produced Sophia's Song (Bellamy Road), the dam of Saturday's GI Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Bright Future (Curlin).

Monday, Saratoga
HOPEFUL S.-GI, $300,000, Saratoga, 9-4, 2yo, 7f, 1:24.41, ft.
1–NUTELLA FELLA, 120, c, 2, by Runhappy
                1st Dam: Krissy's Candy, by Candy Ride (Arg)
                2nd Dam: Unbridled Beauty, by Unbridled's Song
                3rd Dam: Dreamscape, by Mt. Livermore
I WIN. ($12,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-Bell Gable Stable LLC;
B-Ashview Farm (KY); T-Gary C. Contessa; J-Junior Alvarado.
$165,000. Lifetime Record: 2-2-0-0, $187,800.
Werk Nick Rating: B.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Timberlake, 120, c, 2, Into Mischief–Pin Up (Ire), by Lookin At
1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. 'TDN Rising Star'. ($350,000 Ylg '22
KEESEP). O-Siena Farm LLC and WinStar Farm LLC; B-St. Elias
Stables, LLC (KY); T-Brad H. Cox. $60,000.
3–Pirate, 120, c, 2, Omaha Beach–Treasure, by Medaglia d'Oro.
TYPE. 'TDN Rising Star'. ($350,000 Ylg '22 KEESEP). O-Harrell
Ventures, LLC and Starlight Racing; B-Peter E. Blum
Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher. $36,000.
Margins: 1HF, NK, 2HF. Odds: 54.50, 2.15, 10.10.
Also Ran: Be You, Mission Beach, Gold Sweep, Just Steel, Baytown Chatterbox, Valentine Candy, Yo Yo Candy. Scratched: Muth.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.


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