Fresh off being named Eclipse Award Champion Female Sprinter, Pa-bred Unique Bella rolled to an easy win in the G2 Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 10 at Santa Anita Park.
She was sent off as the 1-9 favorite and didn't disappoint her backers.
Ridden by her regular jockey Mike Smith, Unique Bella swept to an early lead between horses and set the pace throughout the 1 1/16th mile race, leading by three lengths down the backstretch before opening up under a mild hand ride in the stretch to cruise to victory by nine lengths.
WITH FRACTIONS of :23.54, :46.80, 1:10.95 and 1:36.49, Unique Bella finished in 1:43.45, which was far off the track record of 1:39.18., but she hardly broke a sweat as she loped along so comfortably.
It wasn't as though the 4-year-old mare was facing easy foes that she won so easily, as second placed Mopotism is also a graded stakes winner who won the G2 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 13 and was fifth in the G1 Breeders' Cup Distaff last Nov. 3.
Third placed Majestic Hear is also a graded stakes winner, having won the G2 Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos last December.
Unique Bella has now won seven of her nine starts, placing second in her first start in a Maiden Special Weight at Santa Anita in 2016 and then going on to win a Maiden Special Weight on Nov. 26, 2016, followed by wins in 2017 in the G2 Santa Ynez Stakes, the G2 Las Virgenes Stakes, the G3 Santa Ysabel Stakes and the G3 L.A. Woman Stakes, all at Santa Anita.
The only blot in her resume came in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Del Mar last year, where she finished seventh on a track she hated.
Unique Bella, who was bred by Betty Moran's Brushwood Stable in Malvern, Pa., has now won $712,400.
Brushwood sold Unique Bella as a yearling to the Don Alberto Corp. for $400,000 at the Keeneland September Sale.
“I really don’t think we’ve seen how good she can be,” Smith was quoted as sayin gin the Thoroughbred Daily Times. “I’ve surely seen how easily she’s doing things right now which I think is extremely impressive. I truly believe we haven’t gotten to the bottom of it. There could even be more to her. I’m excited to see what the future holds for her, I really am. There are some different things we can do with her too because of her size. She probably can step up to the boys at some point. Who knows because she’s not just a one-gutted kind of filly. She’s got a lot to her. She’s built more like a colt.”
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said he was looking at the G1 Santa Margarita Stakes on March 17 for her next race.
Brushwood Stable bought Unique Bella's dam, Unrivaled Bella, for $2.8 million in 22011 after she won the 2010 Breeder's Cup Ladies' Classic, and Brushwood sold her for $3.8 million to Whisper Hill Farm in 2016.