Breeders' Cup - At The Races


Unique Bella
  • Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
  • Likely Jockey: Mike Smith
  • Owner: Don Alberto Stable
  • Age & Breeding: 3-year-old filly; Tapit – Unrivaled Belle
  • Season Form Figures: 1111
  • Career Highlight: Her easy win in the LA Woman.

On the 31st August it was announced that the champion filly Songbird had run her last race, vets concluding that she may never sufficiently recover from injuries to her hind suspensories to race again. It brought to an end a career that yielded 13 wins from 15 – including 7 Grade 1 victories – and over $4.5m in prize money. Songbird's retirement left a hole in Jerry Hollendorfer's team that could potentially have taken years to fill. However, in Unique Bella, he may have a perfect replacement of sorts.

This daughter of Tapit has had something of a stop-start career, but clearly possesses tremendous talent and is not averse to showing it when she does make the track. Just touched off in a maiden on her debut, Unique Bella has since reeled off five consecutive wins by a combined distance of over 30 lengths. The comparisons to Songbird were everywhere.

Having romped by 10 lengths in a maiden on her final start of 2016, Hollendorfer's filly went on to land a Graded stakes race in each of January, February and March, hammering subsequent Grade 1 winner It Tiz Well by seven lengths in the first of those races, and on the latter occasion handing out a comprehensive beating to the highly talented Abel Tasman, who has since won three Grade 1 races, including the Kentucky Oaks, a race for which Unique Bella was favoured before a shin injury pushed her to the sidelines.

Having her first run for seven months, Unique Bella had worked like a dream prior to the LA Woman Stakes and showed everything she had in the morning in the race itself. Despite being caught wide on both turns, she loomed up under a hard hold and only had to be nudged out to score, winning with a tremendous amount in hand. That effort showed she retains all of her ability and should put her spot on for the Filly & Mare Sprint.

At nearly seventeen hands, Unique Bella is massive and looks as though in time she will eventually stretch out to the Distaff trip and perhaps even surpass Songbird by winning the race. In doing so, she would also emulate her dam, Unrivaled Belle, who landed the contest in 2010. With the size and scope to progress, a superb pedigree and a devastating blend of speed and stamina, Unique Bella not only looks one of the most exciting performers running at this year's Breeders' Cup, but also one that could be truly spectacular in 2018.