SUPERSTAR UNIQUE BELLA CRUSHES FOES IN GRADE II, $200,000 LAS VIRGENES STAKES AS SMITH POINTS HER TO 8 ¾ LENGTH WIN; TRAINED BY HOLLENDORFER, SHE GETS FLAT MILE IN 1:35.66

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA-BRED FILLY BY TAPIT TO BE POINTED TO GRADE I SANTA ANITA OAKS APRIL 8

 

ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 5, 2017)–A stalking third around the Club House turn, America’s newest superstar 3-year-old could wait no longer with five furlongs to run and in the blink of an eye, Unique Bella, with Mike Smith at the controls, left last year’s Eclipse Award winning Juvenile Filly and three others in her dust en route to a commanding 8 ¾ length win in Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita.  Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Unique Bella cruised a flat mile in 1:35.66.

“The way she settled, I could’ve taken her even farther back (early),” said Smith, who has been aboard Unique Bella in all four of her career starts.  “At some point you have to let them be who they are; let them do what they’re good at.  I just let her do what she wanted to do and she picked it up and was well within herself.  It was an amazing race.

“She’s very talented.  She created that move down the backstretch until about the quarter pole and she was well within herself from that point on.  Honestly, even then, and I didn’t want her to, she switched to her right lead and it took her there.”

A Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Tapit, out of the Unbridled’s Song mare, Unrivaled Belle, Unique Bella, who was trying two turns for the first time following a 7 ½ length win in the seven furlong Santa Ynez (Grade II) here on Jan. 8, was the overwhelming 1-9 favorite in the tote board and with no show wagering, paid $2.20 and $2.10.

“…I was pretty confident when Mike kind of made his move early, but I knew that he knew he had a lot of horse, so he just went for it and it turned out well,” said Hollendorfer.  “I really like to concentrate on the filly races…I’d like to keep her in California (for the Grade I, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks on April 8) just like I did with (Eclipse Champion) Songbird last year.”

Owned by Don Alberto Stable, Unique Bella is now 4-3-1-0 and with the winner’s share of $120,000, she increased her earnings to $282,400.

In what developed into a separate race, Champagne Room, who had been idle since winning the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 5, hooked up with recent maiden winner Mopotism turning for home, and it was “Mo” who proved best today, finishing second by 1 ¼ lengths.

Ridden by Flavien Prat, Mopotism, who showed the way for the first quarter mile, was off at 13-1 and paid $4.00 to show.

Champagne Room, who was ridden by Mario Gutierrez, was the second choice at 9-2, but had to settle for third, finishing 11 ½ lengths in front of Miss Southern Miss.

Fractions on the race were 22.82, 45.62, 1:10.27 and 1:22.71.

Racing resumes at Santa Anita on Thursday with first post time at 1 p.m.