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Zipse At The Track

Unique Bella as easy as she pleases in the Santa Ynez

Unique Bella_Santa Ynez_615 X 400
Photo: Benoit Photo

What a display. It was shades of Songbird this afternoon at Santa Anita Park as a Jerry Hollendorfer trained sophomore filly dismantled the field in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez. The filly in question is Unique Bella, and today she announced herself as the most promising three-year-old filly in the nation.


Well backed off a 10 ¼-length maiden victory last time at Del Mar, Unique Bella broke near the back of the pack of a field reduced to five after scratches. Always looking menacing, the good looking grey filly quickly moved into a nice stalking position on the outside and in fourth, under her Hall of Fame pilot, Mike Smith. Meanwhile, on the front end, a three-prong battle for the lead was commencing.


Contesting the early lead was Resilient Humor, Princess Karen, and the slight favorite, Shane’s Girlfriend. The trio set down serious racehorse fractions of :22.38 and :44.58. Their collective position in front would not last long, though. Smith could not hold back the powder keg he was on for much longer. Smoothly and powerfully, Unique Bella moved right up to the leaders, and was soon on the lead.


Heading for home, the winning decision was quickly fait accompli. Giving off an effortless vibe that is only evident in good ones, Unique Bella drew away from the rest with each stride. Ultimately, she reached the wire 7 ½-lengths in front, with her stablemate, It Tiz Well all alone in second. Shane’s Girlfriend stayed on best of the early leaders to finish a well beaten third.

“When I saw everyone else send, I thought it was a good time to take a hold of her and see what happens,” remarked the winning rider. “It didn’t seem to bother her. When we hit the far turn, it was like she was breathing different air. Now, it’s more reasonable to compare her (to champion, 4-year-old filly Songbird). Again, she’s very, very talented but with room to grow. Hopefully with each step, she’ll get smarter about certain things. I’m just blessed, that’s all I can say.”


Final time for the seven furlongs over the main track labeled as good was a sharp 1:22.21. With the victory, Unique Bella improved her career record to 3-2-1-0, with earnings of $162,400. She made her debut back in June, and ran a promising second. Off until Thanksgiving weekend, she lived up to that potential by romping in her second career start.


As the even money second choice, Unique Bella rewarded her many backers with $4.00, $2.60, and $2.10. The exacta over the other Hollendorfer-trained filly was good for $23.60, while the 3-9-8 trifecta completed by the easy Delta Downs Princess winner paid $40.20.


Adding to the excitement of this performance, is the pedigree of the Don Alberto Stable owned winner. A $400,000 yearling purchase, Unique Bella is a Pennsylvania-bred daughter of the nation’s top sire, Tapit. More than that, she is out of the Unbridled’s Song mare, Unrivaled Belle. You will remember her as the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (Distaff) winner of 2010.


As bred as well as she could be, she looks every bit that good on the racetrack. It doesn’t always work out that way, but every once in a while, when you breed the best to the best, the end result is something special. Unique Bella gives every indication of being on the verge of being something very special. 

“Well, I’ve always liked her,” said Hollendorfer. “Today, she showed that she’s brilliant. We thought she’d jump out of there a little better. I thought she would be close to the lead. Mike used his judgement, got behind and then got to the outside so it worked out well and our other filly also got Grade 2 placed, so we’re very pleased right now. We’ll relax a little bit and see where we go next. We purposely waited this long with her and pointed towards this race. I don’t know if we’ve seen all there is to Unique Bella but I’ll ask Mike.”


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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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