May 17, 2024

Champion Unique Bella injured, retired

Jockey Mike Smith guides Unique Bella to the winner's circle after their victory in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1) on July 29, 2018, at Del Mar © BENOIT PHOTO

Reigning champion female sprinter Unique Bella has been retired after she was found to have suffered a fractured sesamoid bone following a workout Saturday morning at Del Mar. Owner Haras Don Alberto confirmed the retirement via Twitter.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Unique Bella was clocked in 1:01, breezing, in a five-furlong move, her second published work since her victory in the July 29 Clement L. Hirsch (G1) at Del Mar. Her next intended start would have been the Zenyatta (G1) at Santa Anita on September 30.

A charismatic gray known for her blazing early speed, Unique Bella retires with a record of 12-9-2-0, $1,272,400. She won five of six starts at age three in 2017 and, despite a seven-length defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) as the 11-10 favorite, garnered Eclipse Award honors following wins in the Santa Ynez (G2), Las Virgenes (G1), Santa Ysabel (G3), L. A. Woman (G3) and La Brea (G1).

Unique Bella won three of her first four outings this season, all around two turns. In addition to the Hirsch, she captured the Santa Maria (G2) by nine lengths and the Beholder Mile (G1) by 2 1/4 lengths. She was upset by Unbridled Mo in the Apple Blossom H. (G1) at Oaklawn in April, when she started slow, rushed back into contention, and tired late in a second-place effort. Unique Bella was ridden throughout her career by Mike Smith.

Bred in Pennsylvania by Brushwood Stable, Unique Bella is by Tapit and out of Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Unrivaled Belle, by Unbridled’s Song. She was a $400,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase.