Unique Bella Opens ’18 in Santa Maria

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Unique Bella | Benoit

Don Alberto’s Unique Bella (Tapit), recently named Eclipse champion female sprinter, will stretch out for her 2018 debut while facing just four rivals in the 1 1/16-mile GII Santa Maria S. at Santa Anita Saturday. The gray 4-year-old filly, beaten only twice in eight starts to date, won three straight graded events over the Arcadia surface last spring, including the 1 1/16-mile GIII Santa Ysabel S. in March. Sidelined after that effort, she returned to win the Oct. 8 GIII L A Woman S. before tiring to seventh after setting the pace in the GI Breeders’ Cup F/M Sprint. She will be making her first start since capping her sophomore season with a win in the Dec. 26 GI La Brea S.

Kathy’s Song (Candy Ride {Arg}) will make just her second start on the dirt in the Santa Maria. Purchased for $190,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Summer Horses of Racing Age Sale, the 4-year-old filly was most recently third in the Dec. 30 GI American Oaks for the partnership of Abbondanza Racing, Premier Racing Club and Jerry McClanahan.

“She’s by Candy Ride and was second on dirt at the Fair Grounds, but I’m not so sure how she’s going to handle it again,” trainer Richard Baltas said of the surface change. “It’s a five-horse field, a very tough field, but we’re taking a good look at it.”

Reddam Racing’s Mopotism (Uncle Mo), third behind Unique Bella in the La Brea, earned the first graded stakes win of her career with a determined score in the Jan. 13 GII La Canada S. in her most recent trip to the post.

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