MIKE SMITH, UNIQUE BELLA, WINNER: “She’s really funny about the gate. She either handles it very well, or not so well. She of 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. It’s a very touchy thing to have the gate guys deal with. They do a good job, though.
“What I found interesting today was that she settled really nicely. In the past I don’t think she would have done that. She would have just run on by and opened up by five, six or seven and coasted on home. Today she rated nicely and I had horse left. When I picked her up at the eighth pole she really got into the bridle. I got after her one time just to run through the wire. The next race is seven eighths and she needs to be ready.
“Sometimes things happen for a reason. I think she got a whole lot more out of this than if she had broke two in front. I don’t think she would have gotten anything out of that type of race. What are you going to do? Get after her when she’s already six or seven in front? This race set up better for her to get more out of it. I’m thinkin’ that way anyway. I hope it’s true.
“I’ve been so blessed in my career with so many great fillies. Just when you think there won’t be another as good as that one, here comes another one, another one, and so on. Songbird does what she does and then this one pops up. I’m just blessed.”
JERRY HOLLENDORFER, UNIQUE BELLA, WINNER: “She had a little adversity in the beginning, but Mike (Smith) handles that very well. She slipped a little bit leaving the gate, and then 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. It looked like he rode her confidently the whole race.
“Definitely (we’re looking at the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on Nov. 4). 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.”
FERNANDO DIAZ, REPRESENTING DON ALBERTO STABLES: “It’s been a period there to wait, but you have to be patient. We had to skip the Santa Anita Oaks and then the Kentucky Oaks… Everybody said we had the horse to beat. It was painful, to be honest, but you have to do what’s best for the horse. She’s sound now and the future looks bright. It’s great to have her back.”
NOTES: The winning owner is Don Alberto Stable.