Last weekend’s action was intense, with great stakes races filling the schedule from coast to coast. The Grade 1 Beholder Mile was the feature race of the weekend, while the Grade 2 Penn Mile served as a feature race for 3-year-olds on the turf. Even Belmont Park, which will give us a Breeders’ Cup-like card next Saturday, had a winner that was definitely worthy of making this week’s Three Stars of the Week. Let’s find out who made the list:
1. Unique Bella
The big gray filly is back! After struggling at Oaklawn Park in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap, Unique Bella returned home last Saturday and dominated her rivals for an easy victory in the Grade 1 Beholder Mile. As expected, speedster Paradise Woods went to the front right out of the gate, but Unique Bella stayed right with her down the backside. Before entering the stretch, Unique Bella had already taken the lead from Paradise Woods, then cruised home while holding off a late charge from La Force. With the win, she became racing’s newest millionaire while pushing her overall recored 11-8-2-0. There are plenty of spots for her to run next as she continues her tremendous career.
2. Catholic Boy
This was the craziest race of the weekend! The Jonathan Thomas-trained Catholic Boy was moving back to the turf after an unsuccessful run at the Kentucky Derby. He was cruising down the backside nicely in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge Stakes with Analyze It stalking him in second. At the top of the stretch, Analyze It took the lead and looked to be putting Catholic Boy away with ease. After getting cut off in mid-stretch, it looked as though Catholic Boy was fading, but within an instant, he switched to the outside and began coming back on Analyze It. In just a few jumps, he fought all the way back and took the lead, pushing past Analyze It at the wire to win by a neck. Obviously, this colt will stay on the turf now, and the Grade 1 Belmont Derby would be a great spot for his next start.
The field for Saturday’s Grade 2 Penn Mile looked like an evenly-matched group of horses, but the James Toner-trained Hawkish had other ideas, making short work of the field. After sitting well off the pace early in the race, Hawkish made his move at the top of the stretch and simply dominated down the lane to win by 3 lengths. Toner is fantastic with these types of horses, and a win like this opens the door for several options over the summer on the east coast. The scary part of it all is the fact that Hawkish still showed some maturity issues down the stretch, running a bit green. If he continues to improve while becoming more professional, then the sky is the limit for this colt.