DEL MAR, Calif.--Champion Pa-bred Unique Bella looked as though she was going to post an easy victory in the $300,000, G1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 29, but despite a strong challenge in the strtch from La Force (Ger), Unique Bellas held on to win by 1/2 length.
With her win in that Stakes, Unique Bella got an automatic berth into the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
The big grey mare bred by Betty Moran's Brushwood Stable had five easy wins in the past two years before finishing seventh in the GI Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last November.
This year she was an effortless winner of the G1 Santa Maria Stakes, then finished a disappointing second as the 1-5 favorite in the GI Apple Blossom Handicap., but she came back to win the GI Beholder Mile Stakes on June 2, all at Santa Anita.
As the 1-10 favorite in her return to Del Mar, Unique Bella broke sharply under Mike Smith and went to the lead.
She led through splits of :23.25 and :46.80 with Yuvetsi running second, about two lengths behind, and then a gap of seven or eight more back to the rest of the field.
Unique Bella began to open her lead on the far turn, apparently on the way to another easy win.
But La Force (Ger), runner-up in the Beholder Mile, came running in the stretch and it looked bad for Unique Bella passing the sixteenth pole, but she had just enough to stave off La Force by a half-length on the line.
Unique Bella is out of Unrivaled Belle, winner of the 2010 GI Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic, who sold for $2.8 million to breeder Brushwood Stable in 2011 before reselling for $3.8 million to Whisper Hill Farm at the 2016 Keeneland November Sale.
Unrivaled Belle ha a yearling full-sister to Unique Bella named Unrivaled Princess and foaled her full-brother Jan. 28 before returning to Tapit once more.
SWEET BYE AND BYE won the $100,000 Crowd Please at 1 1/6 miles for Pa-bred 3 year olds at Parx on July 21 while Fielder won the $100,000 Marshall Jenney at 5 furlongs for Pa-bred 3 year olds and up on the same card.
Briardale Stable's Sweet Bye and Bye, trained by Steve Klesaris, competing against males for the first time, sat just off front runner Smooth B before moving to the lead turning into the stretch.
The Sky Mesa filly won by 3 lengths to win for the fourth time this year.
The Marshall Jenney turned into an absolute thriller.
Breaking for post two, Spartianos went to the lead with 16-1 long shot Fielder, making his turf debut for Waldorf Racing Stables and trainer Marya Montoya, sat third.
Fielder was in the three path and seemed to be bearing out, which cost him, and he was four lengths back with just a furlong to run.
Jockey Mycahl Sanchez straightened Fielder and he began to close on the tiring Spartianos, finally getting a nose in front at the wire.
NAVY COMMANDER, bred and owned by Swilcan Stables LLC and trained by Robert E. Reid Jr., won the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 7.
Breaking like a shot, the chestnut 3-year-old gelding Navy Commander led at every call in the 1 1⁄16 mile Long Branch Stakes and drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths in the track’s prep for the G1 Haskell.
A son of Poseidon’s Warrior out of Glenmary Lane, a daughter of Pennsylvania sire Fairbanks, Navy Commander has won four of his seven 2018 starts and earned a berth in the Haskell with his first stakes win.
He is the first foal for his dam, whose only other foal is a yearling Pa-bred full-brother to the stakes winner.
With five wins in 12 starts, Navy Commander has earned $196,663.
PRINCE OF HEMPT, bred by Donald L. Brown Jr.,owned by Thomas G. McClay and trained by Timothy C. Kreiser, won the Carl Hanford Memorial Stakes at Delaware Park on July 14.
With his victory in the Carl Hanford Memorial Stakes on Del Cap Day, Prince of Hempt increased his record to five wins in six career starts, and second win in stakes company.
The 4-year-old son of Majestic Warrior, a $30,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic yearling sales purchase, was unraced at 2, and undefeated in four starts at 3, taking three allowances at Parx Racing and Laurel Park’s City of Laurel Stakes in November.
He didn’t have the cleanest of runs in his return at Parx this past June following a seven-month layoff, being steadied at a crucial point and finishing fourth.
He had a cleaner trip at Delaware, stayed closer to the pace, took command after 6 furlongs and then held off Pa-Bred Monongahela to win the 1 1⁄16 mile stakes on the main track by a half length.
His earnings increased to $206,100.
DADDY IS A LEGEND, bred by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing LLC, owned by Jim and Susan Hill and trained by George Weaver, won the G3 Lake George Stakes at Saratoga on July 20.
Racing exclusively in graded stakes since capturing the G3 Jimmy Durante at Del Mar last November, Daddy Is a Legend got her first win as a 3-year-old with a three-length victory in the G3 Lake George Stakes as the 1.65-1 favorite.
In her previous start, the daughter of Scat Daddy out of Randie’s Legend, by Benchmark, finished in a three-horse photo for place in Belmont’s G3 Wonder Again Stakes on Belmont Stakes day, winding up fourth, a length and a half behind the winner.
Never worse than fourth in eight starts, she now has career earnings of $229,410.
Also on July 20, FAHAN MURA, bred by Michael J. Moran, owned by Bran Jam Stable and David W. Clark and trained by Vladimir Cerin, won the Osunitas Stakes at Del Mar.
Claimed by Bran Jam Stable in August 2017 at Saratoga for $40,000, 4-year-old Fahan Mura has made three cross-country trips since.
Her most recent stop in California resulted with a first stakes victory in Del Mar’s Osunitas for fillies and mares.
Leading at every call, she defeated nine others in the 11⁄16 mile turf contest, which she finished in 1:41.10.
In 18 starts, she has a record of 7-1-3 and earnings of $232,590.
Originally campaigned by Donegal Racing, who purchased her as a yearling for $90,000 out of the 2015 Keeneland September sale, the daughter of English Channel and Celtic Cross, by Giant’s Causeway, was cleverly named, as the Fahan Mura monastery churchyard in County Donegal, Ireland, is home to the seventh-century Celtic interlace cross.
TROOPER JOHN, bred by Smart Angle, LLP, owned by Riversedge Racing Stables Ltd., and trained by Tim Rycroft, won the Don Getty Handicap at Northlands Park on July 21.
Making a name for himself in western Canada, Trooper John has never been worse than third in 15 career starts, and recorded his eighth win, seven in stakes, in the 1 1⁄16 mile Don Getty Handicap.
The 4-year-old son of Colonel John, a half-brother to multiple stakes winner Sky Haven, won the Winnipeg Futurity and Canadian Juvenile Stakes at 2, the Western Canada, Ky Alta and Count Lathum Handicaps at 3, and earlier this year added the Journal Handicap.
His five stakes placings included close seconds in last year’s G3 Canadian Derby and G3 British Columbia Derby.
He now has earnings of $212,854.