Don Alberto Stable’s Unique Bella was crowned 2017 champion female sprinter at the 47th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park. The imposing gray joins Stardom Bound (2-year-old filly in 2008), Hansen (2-year-old colt in 2011), and Untapable (3-year-old filly in 2014) as Eclipse champions sired by Tapit.
Unique Bella opened her 3-year-old season by establishing herself as the Kentucky Oaks (G1) favorite with three consecutive graded stakes victories at Santa Anita: the Santa Ynez (G2), Las Virgenes (G2), and Santa Ysabel (G3). Widely considered the clear leader in her division, Unique Bella was forced to the sidelines with a shin injury as Abel Tasman, a filly Unique Bella had defeated by 2¼ lengths in the Santa Ysabel, went on to take the Kentucky Oaks and eventual champion 3-year-old filly honors.
Unique Bella returned in October to easily collect a fourth graded stakes, the L.A. Woman (G3). This race served as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), in which Unique Bella gave way in the stretch after setting scorching fractions of 21.84 and 44.35.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer adjusted Unique Bella’s training going into the Dec. 26 La Brea Stakes (G1), and jockey Mike Smith successfully employed off-the-pace tactics to defeat multiple Grade 1 winner Paradise Woods. With the victory, Unique Bella became Tapit’s 24th Grade 1 winner.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Brushwood Stable, Unique Bella was produced from 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Unrivaled Belle (by Unbridled’s Song).