Unique Bella back on track

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - Front Page - By Steve An­der­sen – ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Jay Priv­man

AR­CA­DIA, Calif. – Unique Bella tagged along with trainer Jerry Hol­len­dor­fer’s stable through the spring and sum­mer, a bench player with a stel­lar port­fo­lio.

From Santa Anita to Del Mar and back to Santa Anita, Unique Bella did not race while re­cov­er­ing from sore shins that forced her out of train­ing in March, weeks after her third con­sec­u­tive stakes win. In­stead, Unique Bella was rested and slowly brought back to train­ing for a fall cam­paign.

Unique Bella made a suc­cess­ful come­back Sun­day with an em­phatic win in the Grade 3 L.A. Woman Stakes at 6 1/2 fur­longs at Santa Anita. The slow days of sum­mer are over, re­placed by the an­tic­i­pa­tion of a start in the Breed­ers’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Del Mar on Nov. 4.

Mon­day, Hol­len­dor­fer strug­gled briefly to find a way to de­scribe Unique Bella’s con­di­tion the morn­ing after the race, fi­nally set­tling on “per­fect.”

“She came out of the race in very good con­di­tion and we’re grateful for that,” Hol­len­dor­fer said.

As the 1-5 fa­vorite, Unique Bella was ex­pected to win the $100,345 L.A. Woman Stakes against five ri­vals. Rid­den by Mike Smith, she broke a stride slowly and was third for the first half-mile. Smith urged her into con­tention with a three-wide move. Unique Bella won by 3 1/2 lengths in her first start against older fil­lies and mares.

“Mike was very happy with the way she did what she had to do,” Hol­len­dor­fer said. “I guess we have a lit­tle more ma­tu­rity there.”

Unique Bella, who is owned by Don Al­berto Sta­bles, has won 5 of 6 starts and earned $402,400.

The sore shin, de­tected in late March, kept her out of the ma­jor stakes for 3-year-old fil­lies in the spring and sum­mer.

“We had to do that for the horse,” Fer­nando Diaz, who rep­re­sented Don Al­berto Sta­bles, said in the win­ner’s cir­cle on Sun­day. “We’re happy we gave her the time. She proved it to­day.”

Last win­ter, Unique Bella won the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes at seven fur­longs in Jan­uary in her third start, the Grade 2 Las Vir­genes Stakes at a mile in Fe­bru­ary, and the Grade 3 Santa Ys­abel Stakes at 1 1/16 miles in March.

The BC Filly and Mare Sprint is run at seven fur­longs, and will be the tough­est test of Unique Bella’s ca­reer. Hol­len­dor­fer, never the sort to make bold pre­dic­tions, was look­ing for­ward to the race on Mon­day morn­ing.

“She looks like she’ll be able to do some­thing in there,” he said.

Gun Run­ner tops BC works

Gun Run­ner, the fa­vorite for the Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic, led a ros­ter of prom­i­nent po­ten­tial Breed­ers’ Cup par­tic­i­pants who worked on Mon­day morn­ing at Santa Anita.

Trainer Steve As­mussen was in town for the day and watched Gun Run­ner go five fur­longs in 1:01.60. The work was the sec­ond of four planned for Gun Run­ner here at Santa Anita be­fore he heads to Del Mar for his fi­nal work prior to the $6 mil­lion Clas­sic on Nov. 4.

Gun Run­ner worked at about 7 a.m., and went by him­self with ex­er­cise rider An­gel Gar­cia aboard. It was a text­book work for a colt who’s as steady as a metronome.

“Looks like Gun Run­ner,” As­mussen said. “Good to see. He’s a very spe­cial horse. He re­ally is.

“He’s play­ing com­ing off the track like you’d ex­pect him to act be­fore the work. That’s who he is, thank good­ness.”

As­mussen said Gun Run­ner would work in com­pany next week, and that Florent Ger­oux – his reg­u­lar jockey – would be in town for the work.

Also work­ing on Mon­day were Dre­fong, who is ready­ing to de­fend his ti­tle in the Breed­ers’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 4, and Ken­tucky Oaks win­ner Abel Tas­man, who will be tak­ing on elders in the Breed­ers’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 3.

Both Dre­fong and Abel Tas­man are trained by Bob Baf­fert, who sent each horse a half-mile un­der Martin Gar­cia. Dre­fong worked in com­pany, Abel Tas­man went by her­self.

Dre­fong sped through his work in 47.20 sec­onds.

“Just cruis­ing,” Baf­fert said. “Went re­ally nice. He couldn’t be do­ing any bet­ter.”

Abel Tas­man was work­ing for the first time since fin­ish­ing sec­ond after break­ing slowly and mak­ing an early move in the Cotil­lion at Parx. She was timed in 48.60 sec­onds.

“Just a lit­tle main­te­nance drill,” Baf­fert said.

Castel­lano to ride West Coast

Javier Castel­lano has picked up the mount on West Coast for the $6 mil­lion Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic on Nov. 4 at Del Mar, trainer Bob Baf­fert said Mon­day.

Mike Smith rode West Coast to his re­cent vic­to­ries in the Travers Stakes and Penn­syl­va­nia Derby, but he will ride de­fend­ing race win­ner Ar­ro­gate in the Clas­sic.

Baf­fert said the de­ci­sion to go with Castel­lano was made after con­sult­ing with Gary West, who owns West Coast with his wife, Mary.

West Coast on Sun­day worked a half-mile in 48.80 sec­onds in his first drill since the Penn­syl­va­nia Derby. “He looks great,” Baf­fert said. Baf­fert has four po­ten­tial starters in the Clas­sic. In ad­di­tion to Castel­lano on West Coast and Smith on Ar­ro­gate, he said Martin Gar­cia would ride Col­lected and Dray­den Van Dyke would be on Mub­taahij.


Unique Bella eas­ily won her come­back race in the L.A. Woman.

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