Those of you who know me know I think Songbird might be the best filly I’ve ever seen in all my 38 years of doing this….but is her stable-mate, Unique Bella, just as good?
I know that sounds crazy, but as I told fellow reader “Len” recently this filly is freaky good.
The gray bullet not only shares a barn with Songbird as, she too is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, but she shares the same rider as well in Mike Smith.
After tasting defeat in her maiden race, this royally bred filly broke her maiden in November by 10 1/4 lengths with ridiculous ease then came back Sunday and pulverized her foes in the 2017 Santa Ynez at Santa Anita in nothing short of a jaw dropping performance.
Last Sunday, this filly by super-sire Tapit out of multiple graded stakes winner (including the 2010 Breeders Cup Ladies Classic in 2010) Unrivaled Belle, rated off the early pace for the first time in her career when the gates opened. She raced just off a three pronged battle on the front end between Resilient Humor, Princess Karen, and Shane’s Girlfriend.
The three frontrunners ran the first quarter in :22.1 with 30-1 long-shot Resilient Humor a head in front on the rail, 4-5 favorite and Delta Downs Princess winner Shane’s Girlfriend between horses, and Princess Karen three-wide. But after a half in :44.2, Unique Bella was already the winner..
Smith merely guided her to the outside at the three eighths pole and, with minimal effort, she “inhaled” the top three, and cruised home to win the seven-furlong contest by 7 1/2 lengths without any asking from Smith and without taking a deep breath.
“When I saw everyone else send, I thought it was a good time to take a hold of her and see what happens,” Smith said. “It didn’t seem to bother her. When we hit the far turn, it was like she was breathing different air.”
“Well, I’ve always liked her. Today, she showed that she’s brilliant,” Hollendorfer said. “We thought she’d jump out of there a little better. I thought she would be close to the lead. Mike used his judgment got behind, and then got to the outside, so it worked out well.”
Unique Bella, who was in “cruise control” ran six furlongs in 1:09.1 and hit the wire in 1:22.1.
“I don’t know if we’ve seen all there is to Unique Bella,” Hollendorfer said.
Smith, like me, went a one step further.
“It’s (reasonable) to compare her to (Songbird),” Smith said. “Again, she’s very talented, but with room to grow. Hopefully, with each step, she’ll get smarter about certain things. I’m just blessed. That’s all I can say.”
Stayed tuned readers….it looks as though we have another monster on our hands for the year 2017 to go along with Songbird and Arrogate.