Idle since March 4, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s multiple graded stakes winning Unique Bella returns to action Sunday at Santa Anita as she towers over six rivals in the Grade III, $100,000 LA Woman Stakes, for fillies and mares three and up at 6 ½ furlongs.
A three-time graded stakes winner and unbeaten in four starts since running second in her debut, Unique Bella has been heavily favored in four out of her five starts. A 3-year-old Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Tapit, she’s owned by Don Alberto Stable and will tackling older distaffers for the first time.
UNIQUE BELLA: With five consecutive bullet works on her Santa Anita tab, including a five furlong drill on Sept. 14 in 58.20 (best of 24) and a six furlong move Sept. 27 in 1:11.60 (best of 10), there’s little doubt this gray filly is ready to fire as Hollendorfer points to the Grade I, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on Nov. 4. After breaking her maiden by 10 ¼ lengths going 6 ½ furlongs on Nov. 26, Unique Bella then stamped herself a rising star as she took the Grade II, seven furlong Santa Ynez by 7 ½ lengths on Jan. 8; the Grade II, one mile Las Virgenes by 8 ¾ lengths on Feb. 5 and the Grade III, 1 1/16 miles Santa Ysabel by 2 ¼ lengths here on March 4. Sidelined thereafter by what Hollendorfer described as a shin issue, she now looms the horse to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint should things go according to plan here on Saturday. With four wins and a second from five starts, she has earnings of $342,400.
THE GRADE III LA WOMAN STAKES IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS
Race 5 of 9 Approximate post time 2:30 p.m. PT
1. Sturdy One—Norberto Arroyo, Jr.—122
2. Cuddle Alert—Edwin Maldonado—122
3. Bad Ju Ju—Drayden Van Dyke—122
4. Princess Karen—Kent Desormeaux—119
5. Unique Bella—Mike Smith—121
6. Dis Smart Cat—Gary Stevens—122
7. Lunar Empress—Flavien Prat--122
Source: Santa Anita Park