Don Alberto Stable's Unique Bella was favored at 1-9 for Sunday's Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch, but German-bred La Force made a race of it at 8-1, flying late in the final eighth of a mile. Mike Smith had to drop down on Unique Bella's back to urge her on, but the 4-year-old daughter of Tapit did not disappoint, holding on to win by about a half-length on the wire. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the champion filly completed 1 1/16 miles over Del Mar's fast main track in 1:44.40 to earn an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Unique Bella was sharp out of the gate, but was briefly pressed by Yuvetsi heading into the clubhouse turn. Smith let Unique Bella gallop away from that rival until she was all alone on the lead, galloping through fractions of :23.25 and :46.80. Yuvetsi followed two lengths behind in second, while it was another eight or so lengths back to Shenandoah Queen and La Force down the backstretch.
The field began to compress a bit approaching the far turn, but Smith never did more than lower his hands aboard Unique Bella until the eighth pole. La Force had a lot of momentum and was flying home late, but Unique Bella put in just enough effort to win by a half-length on the wire. La Force checked in second, and Bernina Star was third.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Brushwood Stable, Unique Bella is out of the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic-winning mare Unrivaled Belle, by Unbridled's Song. Unique Bella brought $400,000 as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale, and has finished first or second in all but one of her 12 starts; she ran seventh in last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Following the Hirsch, Unique Bella's record stands at nine wins and earnings of over $1.2 million.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.