June 8, 2023

Champagne Room, Unique Bella square off in Las Virgenes

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) champion Champagne Room and Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) romper Unique Bella face off on Sunday as part of a five-filly field entered in the $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.

The one-mile affair is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and offers 10-4-2-1 points to the respective top four finishers.

Many will be watching to see how Champagne Room performs in the race after closing out her two-year-old campaign with a 33-1 upset of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on November 5. Prior to that, the Peter Eurton trainee broke her maiden in the Sorrento Stakes (G2) in her second outing, placed third in the Del Mar Debutante Stakes (G1) and fourth in the Chandelier Stakes (G1).

It was enough for the Broken Vow filly to be honored with an Eclipse Award as the champion two-year-old filly of 2016.

Mario Gutierrez has been aboard Champagne Room in all of her in-the-money finishes and takes the reins Sunday.

Unique Belle wired her second outing by 10 lengths to break her maiden and then romped by 7 1/2 lengths while trying stakes opponents for the first time in the Santa Ynez on January 8. The Jerry Hollendorfer pupil earned a 99 BRIS Speed rating for her maiden score and keeps regular rider Mike Smith in the irons for this one.

Miss Southern Miss will do her best to upset both those runners for trainer Keith Desormeaux. The More Than Ready filly captured her career debut by 3 1/4 lengths at Santa Anita last June before filling the runner-up spot in the Landaluce Stakes and Sorrento. She suffered her worse showing to date when fifth in the Del Mar Debutante on September 3 but got back to her winning ways in her juvenile finale, rallying for a 2 1/2-length decision in the Surfer Girl Stakes. Kent Desormeaux has the call.

Mopotism, third in the Starlet Stakes (G1) two back, and Mistressofthenight each just broke their maidens in their previous starts. The former got the job done on December 30 going a mile over Santa Anita’s wet-fast main track. Mistressofthenight drew off to a 4 1/4-length triumph while making her sophomore bow on January 14 in an off-the-turf Santa Anita maiden. The duo complete the Las Virgenes field.