Unique Bella Out-Finishes Paradise Woods In La Brea

Don Alberto Stable’s Unique Bella earned her first Grade 1 victory in Tuesday’s La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita, out-finishing the talented Paradise Woods in deep stretch to win by three-quarters of a length. Ridden by Mike Smith for Jerry Hollendorfer, the 3-year-old daughter of Tapit completed seven furlongs on the fast main track in a sharp 1:21.49. Smith kept Unique Bella wide down the backstretch, holding her just off the pace behind Paradise Woods, but the two fillies came together at the head of the stretch. After a long battle, the 6-5 top choice Unique Bella was able to pull away from Paradise Woods, the Santa Anita Oaks and Zenyatta Stakes winner who left the starting gate at 2-1 odds.

“She broke really well today and I got her going,” Smith said. “I was concerned about going too fast early. That was the problem in the Breeders’ Cup (Filly & Mare Sprint). She has been training very aggressively in the mornings, so that was my concern. She relaxed and rated and was happy with the pace she had to run today. She gave it all she had to get the job done.”

Both Unique Bella and Paradise Woods got out of the starting gate cleanly, breaking alongside the field of six other sophomore fillies. Princess Karen wanted the lead, moving over from the outside, while Paradise Woods kept close tabs in second along the inside. Smith angled Unique Bella well to the outside, behind a pack of five fillies who wanted to be a part of the pace scenario.

Princess Karen marked the first quarter mile in :22.26 seconds, but both Paradise Woods and Unique Bella were hot on her heels. By the half-mile mark Paradise Woods had already taken command of the race to set a fraction of :44.43.

Unique Bella was content to bide her time, inching up alongside Paradise Woods around the latter part of the far turn. The two came even at the head of the stretch, and went stride-for-stride all the way to the sixteenth pole. Unique Bella had one big jump that put her nose in front of her rival, and Paradise Woods seemed to stop fighting as hard. Unique Bella went on to win by about three-quarters of a length over Paradise Woods. It was several lengths back to Mopotism in third, with Marley’s Freedom hanging around to finish fourth.

“She broke well and had a good trip,” said Flavien Prat of Paradise Woods. “She relaxed well, and turning for home she re-engaged and ran a good race.”

Bred in Pennsylvania by Brushwood Stable, Unique Bella was a $400,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase. Out of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Unrivaled Belle, by Unbridled’s Song, Unique Bella always had high expectations on her. Though she was second on debut, she smartly won in her second outing. From there, she went undefeated in three starts to kick off 2017 before she came up with an injury that took her out of consideration for the Kentucky Oaks. Unique Bella returned in October to win the G3 L.A. Woman Stakes, but disappointed in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar, fading to finish seventh despite heavy favoritism.

“We never lost confidence in her,” Hollendorfer said. “We worked with her and got her to run a good race today—thank God. Mike (Smith) and I both thought she went too fast early last time (when well beaten as favorite in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Nov. 4), and she didn’t finish. Today, he let her lay a little off the pace and kept her wide and she finished well. I have confidence in Unique Bella. She gets into it and I thought she’d beat her (Paradise Woods), and down the lane, she did it.”

Overall, the filly has won six of her eight starts to earn more than $590,000.

The post Unique Bella Out-Finishes Paradise Woods In La Brea appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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