MIKE SMITH, UNIQUE BELLA, WINNER: “It was always going to be a little bit of a chess match between me, Vale Dori and Paradise Woods. I was just going to see who broke better than the others and who was going to take the initiative. I was pretty sure that if I got away well, I would go ahead and take it and I figured that Paradise Woods would be the speed today.
“I just have way too much respect for Don Alberto to let Paradise Woods just take it and Unique Bella doesn’t like it if you take hold of her either. She likes to take it to the competition and sometimes it can hurt you at the end.
“She’s so talented though that she puts so much ground between you and the competition that they can’t make it up. You’ve got to literally come home the last quarter in twenty to catch her.
“So there’s some good things about it but if I was able to settle a little more, which I think I would have if Vale Dori got away a little better and went with Paradise Woods, then I would have maybe taken a little hold of her. In saying that though, it’s very dangerous because she’s liable to get very upset.
“She’s very temperamental and you’ve really got to get along with her. Even if I am getting along with her, something else could set her off. The gate could set her off, the ponies tale could swish and hit her…so, you’ve just got to hope everything goes well. They (the gate crew) know here really well here. She’s very unique…Bella.”
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE, LA FORCE, SECOND: “I kept her back where she was comfortable. They were flying up front and she finished well.”
JERRY HOLLENDORFER, UNIQUE BELLA, WINNER: “We expected Paradise Woods to go out there like she did and Mike didn’t want to let her get away. It’s nice to get her back home and it was nice to have Gary (Stevens) present the trophy.”
FERNANDO DIAZ, REPRESENTING DON ALBERTO STABLE, UNIQUE BELLA, WINNER: “First and foremost I have to say that the owners came in from Chile this morning and were able to see her for the first time run here in the Beholder and to see their own filly win, and so aggressively, was exciting for them, so I’m very excited as well.
“They wish there were more Grade I’s here at Santa Anita because she loves it here and going two turns here was worth it.
“We’re so pleased with Jerry and his team for doing an exceptional job with this mare.”
NOTES: The winning owners are Don Alberto Stable.