Unique Bella entered the 2018 Apple Blossom Handicap without much to really worry about. Installed as the 2/5 favorite, the four year old filly was clearly the best of the bunch. But as we know, anything can happen in the sport of kings and queens.
As anticipation mounted, the bell sounded and the gates cracked open and Unique Bella astonishingly didn’t break at all. The Tapit colt seemed startled and frozen and took off at a sheer disadvantage in the rear. Closing the gap immediately, Unique Bella clawed back in to second place with Farrell leading the way as a 6/1 outsider.
In almost no time, Unique Bella pulled up outside of Farrell and took over at the half-mile pole. There was no counter punch from the pace setter as Streamline and Unbridled Mo careened in third and fourth, setting themselves up perfect for a home stretch burst.
The top of the homestretch saw three horses in an ideal spot, but it was obvious that poor start in the 2018 Apple Blossom, and the subsequent surge that required her to get in to competitive standing, sapped the favorite of her normal closing speed. Barrelling home uncontested, Unbridled Mo soared home for her first victory of the season as a 5/1 option who was a very distant second choice at the onset of the 2018 Apple Blossom.
“Squatted in the gate. I was trying to stand her up. The next thing I knew, they opened the gates and she squatted back,” said jockey Mike Smith. “She totally missed the break. I wish I could have stayed last. If I could have, I would have. She was very strong and very fresh. After she got left, she just wanted to catch up. I could have thrown her down, but I never had to do that, and I wasn’t about to start. It was just unfortunate.”
The 2018 Apple Blossom Handicap victory has pushed Unbridled Mo closer to becoming a million dollar winner. She is 7-0-0 in ten starts and $960,880 in career earnings.
Todd Pletcher was obvious pleased with the upset, which gave this daughter of 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Uncle Mo some much needed momentum. “We thought, ultimately, a Grade 1 was sort of the only thing missing on her resume,” Pletcher indicated. “She’s a very consistent mare. We knew that there’s a very short-priced favorite we had to beat. We felt like if she’d won—even if she was second or third—it would be a positive result. We decided to go ahead and take a shot, and we’re very happy that we did.”