ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 26, 2017)–With a stinging defeat in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint fresh in their minds, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and “Big Money” Mike Smith teamed again on Tuesday at Santa Anita with the gray filly Unique Bella, with a decidedly different outcome resulting, as the Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Tapit conserved her energy early while breezing to a three quarter length win over Paradise Woods in the Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes.
Breaking from post position three, Unique Bella was under restraint early as Smith opted to ease outside a four-horse spread coming out of the seven furlong chute. From there, “Bella” put herself into a contending third position, just to the outside of dueling leaders Paradise Woods and Princess Karen. Turning for home, Unique Bella was in perfect sync, with her long stride cutting into the leading margin of Paradise Woods, who succumbed a sixteenth of a mile out.
Off as the 6-5 favorite, Unique Bella paid $4.60, $2.80 and $2.60.
Owned by Don Alberto Stable, who had a five-game winning streak snapped in the Breeders’ Cup, registered her first-ever Grade I win and her fifth graded tally in the La Brea. In getting her sixth win from eight overall starts, she picked up $180,000 for the win, increasing her earnings to $592,400.
Pressed from the opening bell Paradise Woods finished 1 ¾ lengths in front of Mopotism. Ridden by Flavien Prat, Paradise Woods was off at 2-1 and paid $3.20 and $2.80.
Mopotism, who was handled by Mario Gutierrez, was off at 15-1 and paid $4.60 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.26, 44.43 and 1:08.81.