ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 8, 2017)–Idle since March 4, Don Alberto Stables’ Unique Bella was an impressive 3 ½ length winner of Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 LA Woman Stakes at Santa Anita. Ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the imposing daughter of Tapit got 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.66.
At roughly 17 hands, Unique Bella appeared to be a handful with Smith early on, as she broke a step slow, tugged in the early stages and was an ominous third going into the far turn before taking control from pacesetter Princess Karen as they swung for home.
“She had a little adversity in the beginning, but Mike handles that very well,” said Hollendorfer. “She slipped a little bit leaving the gate, and when he asked her to rate a little bit, she had her head up a little, but then she settled right down and got down to business.”
Hollendorfer then confirmed that the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on Nov. 4 is next up on Unique Bella’s dance card.
“Definitely. We’ve talked about that for a long time. We thought if we could get her back to this race and get a good race in her, that we could probably do that.”
With $261,817 bet to show on her, Unique Bella was 1-5 in the straight tote versus five fillies and mares three and up and paid $2.40, $2.20 and $2.10.
With four consecutive graded stakes wins now to her credit, Unique Bella now has five overall wins from six starts. With the LA Woman winner’s check of $60,000, she now has earnings of $402,400.
“She’s really funny about the gate,” said Smith, who has now ridden her in all six of her races. “She kind of rocks back ‘n’ forth and she weaves in there. You try and make her stand still but if you try too hard, she gets a bit aggravated…When I picked her up at the eighth pole she really got into the bridle…The next race is seven eighths and she needs to be ready.”
Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Princess Karen was second best and finished three quarters of a length in front of Cuddle Alert. The second choice at 9-2, Princess Karen paid $3.20 and $2.20.
Game throughout, Cuddle Alert held third by a neck over Bad Ju Ju. Ridden by Edwin Maldonado, Cuddle Alert was off at 34-1 and paid $4.20 to show.
Fractions on the race were 22.32, 45.32 and 1:10.14.