Unique Bella is the current favorite to win this year’s Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) and she showed why in her $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) 2 1/2 lengths win. It was Unique Bella’s fourth straight open-lengths win.
“We have a very talented filly and we’d like to look at the Kentucky Oaks,” said legendary trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “We like to take one step at a time. We’d like to go for the Santa Anita Oaks (G1), and if we win or do well, then we’ll try to go to Kentucky.”
Going into the race as the 1-9 favorite, Unique Bella started off sluggish, trailing early pacesetters Tap It All and Spooky Woods. She eventually took the lead after the first turn and set fractions of :23.35 and :46.23 after the first quarter and half-mile, respectively. Her lead was as big as five lengths after the first six furlongs and that’s when eventual runner-up Abel Tasman made a push from the back. It wasn’t enough though as Unique Bella went on to win in a time of 1:10.70.
“It was pretty eventful,” said jockey Mike Smith. “Sometimes you just stay out of the way of the good ones and they’ll run for you. That’s pretty much what I did today.”
Unique Bella paid $2.20, $2.10, and $2.10 for the win. In five career starts, Unique Bella has won four and has earned $342,400.