April 2017 Issue - page 4

Page 4
April 2017
by Terry Conway
How fortunate can one
horseman be?
Last year trainer Jerry Hol-
lendorfer wowed the racing world
with his champion 3-year old filly
Songbird who reeled off eleven
consecutive victories before los-
ing by inches in a knock-down,
drag-out brawl with 6-year old
champion Beholder in the Breed-
ers' Cup Distaff.
This year Hollendorfer's
back with Unique Bella. A
3-year old gray/roan filly by
super sire Tapit out of Breeders'
Cup Ladies' Classic heroine
Unrivaled Belle, Unique Bella
scored her fourth consecutive
victory in the $100,000 Santa
Bred at Brushwood Stable, Unique Bella a Rising Star
Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita on
March 4.
Missing the break, Unique
Bella bulled her way between a
pair of rivals on the first turn taking
command down the backstretch,
to open up five lengths. Unlike
her previous victories the filly was
challenged by Abel Tasman with a
furlong to go, but with jockey Mike
Smith urging her on she drew away
to win by close to three lengths.
Racing in the orange, green
and white silks of Chilean-based
Don Alberto Stable, Unique
Bella has won four of five starts
for earnings of $340,000 and
has stamped herself as the early
favorite for the Kentucky Oaks.
"I got left so bad (at the
start); that was the worst thing
that could have happened,"
Smith said “She was eager to run
around the first turn. I thought
I would have to run over some-
body. I had to do a little bit of
pushing, but I was on a big filly.
When I saw the other horse down
the stretch I got into her, and she
jumped back into the bridle."
Hollendorfer thought Unique
Bella may have been waiting on
rivals in the stretch.
“Mike had to wave the stick
at her, but she responded right
away,” he said. “I wasn’t too
worried. We're looking at the
Santa Anita Oaks (April 8) and if
all goes well the Kentucky Oaks
(May 5)."
Bred in Pennsylvania by
Betty Moran's Brushwood Stable,
Unique Bella was purchased by
Don Alberto Corp. for $400,000
at the Keeneland September Year-
ling Sale from an Eaton Sales
"She was always quite good-
sized," noted Reiley MacDonald,
Moran's longtime bloodstock
advisor and Eaton owner. "She
has a beautiful head, neck and
shoulder, and was deep through
the girth, a hallmark of the good
Unique Bella is the latest
top-flight runner for Tapit, the
North American three-time
reigning champion stallion. A
16-year old son of Pulpit, Tapit
stands at Gainesway Farm at
a fee of $300,000. As of early
March, Tapit had produced 90
other stakes winners, including
21 Grade-1 winners. Among
that gang are Frosted, Stardom
Bound, Tonalist and Untapable.
In her racing debut last June
at Santa Anita, Unique Bella
broke slowly and finished second,
beaten by 2 1/4 lengths in a
five-furlong contest. Hollendorfer
decided to take his time to work
with the somewhat quirky filly.
She returned to the racetrack
in November in a 6 1/2 furlong
sprint where she cruised to the
front and romped home by 10
1/4 lengths at the Del Mar main
track. She followed that with a 7
1/2 length score in her stakes de-
but in the Santa Ynez (Grade-2)
at seven furlongs at Santa Anita
Park in January.
Unique Bella's most impres-
sive win was in the $200,000
Las Virgenes Stakes (Grade-2)
at Santa Anita in February.
Tracking the early leaders Mo-
potism and Champagne Room
(the 2016 champion 2-year old
filly and Breeders Cup Juvenile
Fillies winner), Unique Bella
uncorked a three-wide move in
the backstretch to take command.
Challenged by Champion Room
around the far turn, Unique Bella
easily dispatched the other filly
and pulled away down the stretch
with jockey Smith sitting like a
statue. Unique Bella crossed the
wire 8 3/4 lengths the best, even
though Smith had geared her
down to a gallop.
"The way she settled, I
could have taken her even farther
back," Smith said. "At some point
you have to let them be who they
are—let them do what they're
good at. I just let her do what she
wanted to do and she picked it
up, and was well within herself."
"You never expect that, but I
was pretty confident when Mike
kind of made his move early,"
Hollendorfer added. "I knew that
he knew he had a lot of horse, so
he just went for it and it turned
out well."
South American Powerhouse
A major force in breeding
and racing in Chile, Don Alberto
Corp. is a relative newcomer to
the U.S. The group made its first
major splash with the $13.82
million purchase of Tom Simon’s
former Vinery property in Ken-
tucky in 2013. Don Alberto is led
by principal owner Liliana Solari.
She is the founder of the celebrat-
ed Haras Don Alberto thorough-
bred operation in Chile, while her
son Carlos Heller is president of
the family’s conglomerate Bethia
Within a month of pur-
chasing the 440-acre Vinery,
Heller and his racing advisor
Fernando Diaz-Valdes headed
(Continued on page 10)
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