Unique Bella, the latest in a seemingly endless line of stalwarts from the barn of Jerry Hollendorfer, will be favored for the 10th time in 11 career races Saturday in the Beholder Mile.
Santa Anita linemaker Jon White has the striking four-year-old gray daughter of Tapit listed at 3-5 against five rivals in the Grade I event, but those odds could drop even further by post time for the ninth of 10 races, which is set to go at approximately 4:30 p.m.
Unique Bella has been the odds-on choice in seven of her races. The only time she was not favored was in the Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 8, 2017, when she was second choice at even money, winning by 7 ½ lengths.
She was favored at 20 cents on the dollar last out in the Grade I Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park April 13 but bobbled at the start and could not overcome that mishap, finishing second under Mike Smith, who has been aboard in all her races.
“It was one of those things,” said Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward on a glorious sun-filled Friday morning at Santa Anita. “She's ready. She got a good post (six), has a good record on this track (six wins and a second in seven starts) and a good, versatile running style.
“She's won a Grade I coming from fifth (the La Brea at seven furlongs last Dec. 26) and she's won wire-to-wire, so we look for a big race. It's good competition, but we're confident.”
The Beholder field: $8,000 supplemental nominee Munny Spunt, Kyle Frey, 30-1; Mopotism, Geovanni Franco, 15-1; La Force, Drayden Van Dyke, 20-1; Paradise Woods, Flavien Prat, 2-1; Vale Dori, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; and Unique Bella, Mike Smith, 3-5.
In an uncharacteristic move for Bob Baffert, the Triple Crown-winning trainer had Vale Dori blow out three furlongs Friday morning in a bullet 35.80, fastest of 19 drills at the distance, but he said after the drill, “It was just to open her lungs up. As of now, she's running.”
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