Tapit filly Unique Bella crushes field in Santa Ynez

Don Alberto Stable color–bearer romps by 7½ lengths

Don Alberto Stable’s Unique Bella put the finishing touches on a stellar weekend for leading sire Tapit Jan. 8 at Santa Anita Park when she delivered an outstanding exhibition in the Grade 2 Santa Ynez Stakes. In only her third start, the 3-year-old gray filly earned 10 points toward a berth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks.

Jockey Mike Smith, content to let Unique Bella bide her time in fourth as favored Shane’s Girlfriend pressed Resilient Humor’s early pace, forged a four-wide bid into the turn and took command. Once in the clear the Jerry Hollendorfer-trainee put her competition farther and farther in her rear view and was 7½ unasked lengths ahead at the finish in 1:22.21.

Unique Bella, whom Don Alberto purchased for $400,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale, became Tapit’s second 3-year-old filly stakes winner of the weekend. On Jan. 7 at Gulfstream Park, Phillips Racing’s homebred Bellavais impressed with a tough-as-nails triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Ginger Brew Stakes on the turf.

Tapit’s 91st stakes winner, Unique Bella was bred in Pennsylvania by Brushwood Stable out of Unbridled’s Song’s Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Unrivaled Belle. Unrivaled Belle, in foal to Tapit, topped last year’s Keeneland November breeding stock sale, selling for $3.8 million.