Rapidly improving Unique Bella will try two turns for the first time as she takes on Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Champion Champagne Room and three other sophomore fillies at a flat mile in Sunday’s Grade II, $ 200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Unique Bella comes off a stirring 7 ½ length win in the Grade II, seven furlong Santa Ynez Stakes Jan. 8, while trainer Peter Eurton’s Eclipse Champion 2-year-old Filly Champagne Room has been idle since her signature achievement in the Grade I Juvenile Fillies at a mile and a sixteenth here on Nov. 5.
UNIQUE BELLA: With her two wins from three career starts coming by a combined 17 ¾ lengths, this grey daughter of Tapit has many observers comparing her to her multiple Eclipse Award winning stablemate, 4-year-old filly, Songbird. Owned by Don Alberto Stable and bred in Pennsylvania, she indeed has the look of something special and can be expected to show plenty of early speed under regular rider Mike Smith on Sunday. Given her pedigree, recent graded stakes win and her high flying connections, Unique Bella should go favored over Champagne Room in the Las Virgenes on Sunday.
CHAMPAGNE ROOM: Battled tested and consistent, she broke her maiden in her second start as well, in the Grade II, 6 ½ furlong Sorrento Stakes a Del Mar Aug. 6. Subsequently third in the Grade I Del Mar Debutante Sept. 3, she was then fourth in the Grade I Chandelier Stakes here on Oct. 1, which was her first try at two turns. Off at 33-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, she settled nicely under Mario Gutierrez and went on to a three quarter length win. By all accounts, she’s trained very well for her return and despite her lack of recency, can be counted on for a top effort at one mile. Owned by Sharon Alesia, Cialia Racing, LLC, Exline-Border Racing, LLC, Gulliver Racing, Christensen and Legan, Champagne Room is 5-2-1-1 with earnings of $ 1,286,600.
THE GRADE II LAS VIRGENES STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 6 of 9 – Approximate post time 1:30 p.m. PT
1. Mopotism—Flavien Prat – 118
2. Champagne Room—Mario Gutierrez—123
3. Mistressofthenight—Corey Nakatani – 118
4. Unique Bella—Mike Smith—120
5. Miss Southern Miss—Kent Desormeaux—118
There will be a special early first post time on Big Game Sunday at Santa Anita of 11 a.m. Admission gates will open at 9 a.m.
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