Unique Bella, an Eclipse Award finalist for outstanding female sprinter of 2017, worked four furlongs on Santa Anita's fast main track Saturday morning in 49.60, breezing, for an expected start in the Grade II, $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 10.
“She worked great,” said Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, who had exercise rider Fred Rodriguez aboard for the drill. “She's really learning how to relax. She was standing out there by herself, no pony, nothing, just relaxed, then went off slow and finished great.
“This is going to help her in her races.”
Unique Bella, a $400,000 daughter of Tapit owned by Don Alberto Stable, won the Grade I La Brea Stakes at seven furlongs Dec. 26 by three-quarters of a length after finishing seventh and last in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Nov. 4 at Del Mar, setting the pace in the race, also at seven furlongs, until turning for home.
Overall, Unique Bella has six wins from eight starts with earnings of $592,400. Just turned four on Jan. 1, the gray filly would be trying two turns for the third time should she run in the Santa Maria. She won the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile last Feb. 5, and the Grade III Santa Ysabel at 1 1/16 miles on March 4.
In six starts at her home base of Santa Anita, Unique Bella has lost only once, finishing second after a slow start in her debut, on June 23, 2016.
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