Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Separated by 3/4 of a length Tuesday in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes, Unique Bella and Paradise Woods are expected to meet again soon, this time going around two turns.
The Daily Racing Form reports that both fillies entering their 4-year-old seasons will next point to the Grade 2 Santa Maria Stakes set for Feb. 10 at Santa Anita Park, with the budding rivalry stretching from seven furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.
In the La Brea — their first meeting — Paradise Woods led leaving the turn and held her advantage until the final sixteenth of a mile, when Unique Bella, who rallied five wide at one point, overtook her.
“He kept her clear,” Jerry Hollendorfer told DRF of jockey Mike Smith, whose ride kept the trainer “confident.”
Unique Bella, a daughter of Tapit who missed much of 2017 due to injury, hasn’t gone two turns since the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel last March, also at 1 1/16 miles.
As for Paradise Woods, she followed up a highly praised third-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff by nearly winning her third Grade 1 race.
“She ran a good race,” said trainer Richard Mandella, “but the other one ran a monstrous race.”