February 22, 2024

Unique Bella, Miss Sky Warrior headline Santa Ysabel, Davona Dale

Unique Bella and jockey Mike Smith win the Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) on Sunday, January 8, 2017, at Santa Anita Park © BENOIT PHOTO

A pair of Kentucky Oaks (G1) points races will take placed Saturday, one on the East Coast at Gulfstream Park and the other on the West Coast at Santa Anita Park. A full field of 14 were entered at Gulfstream while half that is expected to line up at Santa Anita.

Despite the field discrepancy, the latter event is the more eagerly awaited race thanks to the presence of Unique Bella. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee has romped in her past three contests and looks to add the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3) to her resume on Saturday.

The 1 1/16-mile race will be the first time Unique Bella has competed beyond a mile, and also features Grade 1 heroine Noted and Quoted as well as last-out Starlet Stakes (G1) victress Abel Tasman.

The race at Gulfstream, the $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes (G3), is carded for a mile and is a much more contentious affair. Any number in the 14-filly field could wind up in the winner’s circle at the end of the event, including Miss Sky Warrior.

That dark bay daughter of First Samurai is making her sophomore bow in this spot after breaking her maiden by seven lengths and taking both the Tempted Stakes (G3) and Demoiselle Stakes (G2) to close out her juvenile season for trainer Kelly Breen.

Others in with a chance are Grade 1 scorer Pretty City Dancer; Brahms Cat and Summer Luck, the respective third- and fourth-place finishers in the Forward Gal Stakes (G2) last out on February 4; and Saratoga Citizen, a wire-to-wire winner over track and distance on February 19.