Of the eight names on nomination forms for the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic secured by the Del Mar racing office as of Thursday morning there was one guaranteed to create a stir in fans and horsemen alike.
That name: Unique Bella, the Eclipse Award-winning 4-year-old filly trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, owned by Don Alberto Stable and earner of more than $1.2 million from nine wins in 12 career starts, most recently a half-length score in the Grade 1 $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes here on July 29.
“We're nominating and we'll take a look at the other nominations,” Hollendorfer said Thursday morning. Asked for a percentage estimate on the possibility of Unique Bella, Hollendorfer said: “Not at this time.”
Hollendorfer also nominated Full of Luck, a five-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky of which he is a part owner. Full of Luck was imported late last year after two standout seasons in Chile and produced his best result in four U.S. starts when third in the G3 $100,000 Cougar II Handicap here on July 25.
Other horses, beside the Hollendorfer duo, whose nominations were received Thursday morning were: Accelerate, Ann Arbor Eddie, Catalina Cruiser, Pavel, Prime Attraction and The Lieutenant.
The deadline for nominations, at a cost of $300, is midnight Thursday. Supplemental entries, at a fee of $10,000, can be received up until the field is finally set next Tuesday.
For Unique Bella, to take on males would be a departure from the norm for Hollendorfer. He resisted temptation to do so on several occasions with champion filly Songbird throughout a 15-race career in which she won 13 of 15 starts and earned more than $4.6 million before being sold at auction as a broodmare prospect for $9.6 million.
Hollendorfer was dismissive of calls early last year to run Unique Bella in the Kentucky Derby rather than the Kentucky Oaks, before the disscussions became moot when an injury sidelined her for four months.
Hollendorfer has four previous Pacific Classic starters and won the 2014 running with Shared Belief. There have been five females to run in the Classic starting with Paseana (5th, 1992) and most recently with Beholder. The Richard Mandella-trained champion went from winning the Clement L. Hirsch to victory in the Pacific Classic in 2015 and finished second to California Chrome the following year.
The 1 ¼-mile TVG Pacific Classic, signature event of the summer season, will have its 28th running on Saturday, August 18.
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