Authoritative Unique Bella caps huge day for sire Tapit

Trio of 3-year-old graded stakes winners for champion sire

Unique Bella dominates the Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) March 4 at Santa Anita
Benoit Photo

Though Tapit has led the general sire list for three consecutive years with record earnings in each, siring three graded stakes winners on the same day, March 4, was a noteworthy accomplishment even for him.

The Gainesway stallion’s red-letter day began at Gulfstream Park when John Oxley’s Kentucky-homebred 3-year-old filly Dream Dancing took the 1 1/16-mile Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) over the turf. Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Julien Leparoux, the gray filly earned her first black type with a hard-fought come-from-behind neck victory over favored Coasted.

Dream Dancing’s dam, To Dream About, is an unraced daughter of Oxley’s 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos out of his 1999 champion older mare Beautiful Pleasure.

Five races later on the Gulfstream card Tapit struck again in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3), also at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Woodford Racing’s 3-year-old Ticonderoga became Tapit’s 95th added-money winner when jockey Joel Rosario guided the Chad Brown trainee from the back of the pack in the last furlongs to prevail by a length in his 2017 debut.

Bryant Prentice III bred Ticonderoga in Kentucky, and Woodford purchased the son of the multiple graded stakes-winning Johar mare Keertana out of the 2015 Keeneland September sale for $850,000.

Several hours later and on the opposite coast, Don Alberto Stable’s 3-year-old daughter of Tapit Unique Bella continued her march to the spring classics with another “catch me if you can” performance in the Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita.

Mike Smith, who knows a thing or two about riding great fillies, moved the big gray odds-on favorite to the lead after the first quarter of the 1 1/16-mile dirt event. Her easy sweeping strides powered her to a five-length advantage after six furlongs. Challenged in the stretch by Abel Tasman, Unique Bella responded to Smith’s urging to win by 2¼ lengths.

Jerry Hollendorfer trains Unique Bella, who was bred in Pennsylvania by Brushwood Stable. Don Alberto purchased the daughter of Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (G1) winner Unrivaled Belle (by Unbridled’s Song) for $400,000 at the 2015 Keeneland September sale.

In addition to his trio of graded stakes winners, Tapit delivered an impressive newcomer at Gulfstream. Making his career debut for trainer Mark Casse, Inheritthewind, who races for Randy Hartley and Gainesway Stable, won a 7½-furlong turf maiden special weight by three-quarters of a length under Julien Leparoux.

Bred in New York by Waterville Lake Stables from the graded stakes-placed Danehill mare Charming Legacy, Inheritthewind was purchased at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale for $400,000 by Hartley/De Renzo Thoroughbreds.