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A trio of Grade 1 winners – Unique Bella, Paradise Woods and Vale Dori – lead a compact but talented field of six in Saturday’s Grade 1 feature, the $400,000 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita Park.

Unique Bella returns to the West Coast after defeated last out in Oaklawn Park’s Apple Blossom, as she stumbled leaving the gate and never quite recovered. Paradise Woods gets her rematch after going head to head with the champion sprinter in December’s La Brea, also at Santa Anita. And Vale Dori enters looking for her first victory in a year, and after an unconventional three-furlong breeze Friday morning.

It was just to open her lungs up,” said trainer Bob Baffert. “As of now, she’s running.”

Post time is set for 7:53 p.m. ET.

Here’s who Horse Racing Nation’s experts like to win it:

Jeffrey Byrnes, Byrnzzze’s Corner (@jeffbyrnes96)

Winner: #6 Unique Bella

On the board: #4 Paradise Woods, #5 Vale Dori

Longshot I like: #3 La Force

Analysis: Unique Bella’s only blemishes were in a poor effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint and following her Apple Blossom stumble. Despite that last out, she finished a game second, fighting all the way. Now, she cuts back to what I believe is her favorite distance, and she should get a good trip from her outside post. If she can stay under control and get a good gate break, she can win. Paradise Woods needed her last start off three months, and is usually better second off the layoff. Vale Dori will also benefit from the layoff, and she should sit comfortably outside. I will play a 6-4-5-3 superfecta box. La Force is due for a good run and just missed top three in last two starts.

Nick Costa, Trackside with Trackman

Winner: #6 Unique Bella

On the board: #5 Vale Dori, #4 Paradise Woods

Longshot I like: None

Analysis: Unique Bella gets back to California, but more specifically, Santa Anita, where she has won 6 of 7. If she breaks clean, it may be all over but the shouting. Vale Dori’s most recent start came off a lengthy layoff and was strictly a prep. She should vastly improve. For Paradise Woods to show her best, she needs an uncontested lead, which is unlikely to occur as the top two are very capable of applying early pressure.


Chip Gehrke, On the Air with Dr. Derby (@doctorderby)

Winner: #4 Paradise Woods

On the board: #6 Unique Bella, #5 Vale Dori

Longshot I like: #5 Vale Dori

Analysis: Paradise Woods should enjoy the move back to two turns, and although a bit longer may be her best distance, she could have the trip that is needed to win this. Unique Bella has yet to win a Grade 1 around two turns, and this may be her best and possibly last chance to do it. The distance should be perfect, but the presence of Vale Dori complicates the trip. Vale Dori obviously need the race in her last start, her first in nine months. A return to last summer’s form puts her in the winner’s circle here.


Casey Laughter, The Tattooed Tracksider (@WritingCasey)

Winner: #6 Unique Bella

On the board: #5 Vale Dori, #4 Paradise Woods

Longshot I like: #1 Munny Spunt

Analysis: I am going with the three big-shot horses in this race. Simply, they look worlds better than the rest. Paradise Woods is the wild card for me here. If she runs her race, she will be tough for both Unique Bella and Vale Dori. 


Reinier Macatangay, Setting the Pace (@tracinglifemore)

Winner: #6 Unique Bella

On the board: #4 Paradise Woods, #5 Vale Dori

Longshot I like: #3 La Force

Analysis: Paradise Woods and Unique Bella are two talented fillies with speed and some odd quirks. One of them should work out a good trip and win. If not, Vale Dori will be fit enough now off the disappointing Adoration Stakes effort. 


Ashley Tamulonis, From Coast to Coast (@Florida_Filly)

Winner: #6 Unique Bella

On the board: #5 Vale Dori, #4 Paradise Woods

Longshot I like: #2 Mopotism

Analysis: Unique Bella is back at her favorite track and will be difficult to beat so long as she does not miss the break again. Vale Dori should improve in her second start off the layoff. Paradise Woods is solid, but Mopotism could be any kind in running back just a week after her last race. The Big 3 will all be out front which could set up nicely for Mopotism.

 



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