Don Alberto Stable’s Unique Bella and jockey Mike Smith win the Grade II, $ 200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes
Jerry Hollendorfer’s budding superstar filly Unique Bella towers over six rivals in Saturday’s Grade III, $ 100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes, to be contested at a mile and a sixteenth over Santa Anita’s main track. With the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks set as her next local objective, the flashy grey daughter of Tapit will again be attempting to follow in the footsteps of her two-time Eclipse Award Champion stablemate Songbird, who waltzed home victorious in the 2016 Santa Ysabel en route to victory in the Santa Anita Oaks.
Idle since winning the Grade I, 1 1/16 miles Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos Dec. 10, trainer Simon Callaghan’s Abel Tasman seeks her fourth consecutive win in what will be her first encounter with Unique Bella.
UNIQUE BELLA: Owned by Don Alberto Stable and ridden in all four of starts by Mike Smith, she’s been heavily favored in three of them, with her only loss coming in her debut going five furlongs here on June 23. Although pressured by some observers to face males this spring, Hollendorfer has consistently stated that his Pennsylvania-bred filly will remain with her own gender through the April 8 Santa Anita Oaks and on to the Grade I Kentucky Oaks on May 5. She made her 3-year-old debut in the Grade II, seven furlong Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 8, winning by 7 ½ lengths, and like Songbird, she followed that up with an easy score in the Grade II, one mile Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb. 5, winning by 8 ¾ lengths while having amassed a 26 ½ length collective cushion in her three wins dating back to her maiden triumph at Del Mar on Nov. 26. With an overall mark of 4-3-1-0, Unique Bella has earnings of $ 282,400.
ABEL TASMAN: Like Unique Bella, she’s on a three-game winning streak as she approaches her first start of 2017. Owned by her breeder, Clearsky Farms, this Kentucky-bred daughter of Quality Road got an 84 Beyer Speed figure in winning the Starlet and has demonstrated a solid turn of foot in all three victories. With Joe Talamo set to ride her for the fifth consecutive time, Abel Tasman will have to hope for a lively pace in which someone can engage the favorite early. With three wins from four starts, she has earnings of $ 247,860.
NOTED AND QUOTED: Idle since well beaten here in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 5, this Florida-bred daughter of The Factor pressed the pace and won the Grade I, 1 1/16 miles Chandelier Stakes two starts back on Oct. 1. Trained by Bob Baffert and owned by Speedway Stable, LLC, she’ll be ridden for the first time by Martin Garcia and could prove a menacing pace presence to Unique Bella. With two wins from five starts, she has earnings of $ 259,580.
THE GRADE III SANTA YSABEL WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 6 of 10 – Approximate post time 3 p.m. PT
1. Unique Bella—Mike Smith—124
2. Tap It All—Santiago Gonzalez—120
3. Spooky Woods—Flavien Prat—120
4. Mistressofthenight—Corey Nakatani—120
5. What What What—Rafael Bejarano—120
6. Noted and Quoted—Martin Garcia—124
7. Abel Tasman—Joe Talamo—124
First post time for a 10-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m.
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