Triple Crown

Unique Bella wins Santa Maria Stakes in convincing fashion

Unique Bella wins Santa Maria Stakes in convincing fashion

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has ridden his share of champion female horses, from Azeri to Zenyatta to Songbird. Now he has another star in the making in the 4-year-old filly Unique Bella.

“I’m blessed,” Smith said.

Unique Bella, a royally bred daughter of Tapit, made her 2018 debut on Saturday at Santa Anita, and as first impressions go, all you can say is, “Wow.”

She won by nine lengths in the $200,000 Santa Maria Stakes as the 1-9 favorite going 1 1/16 miles. Not bad for a horse that won the Eclipse Award as the champion female sprinter for 2017.

“I really don’t think we’ve seen how good she can be,” Smith said. “I’ve surely seen how easily she’s doing...

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