Anxious moments for Unrivaled Belle

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Unrivaled Belle always gives her connections and backers some anxiety before her races. More often than not, though, she provides some relief when the race is over.

Such was the case again in Saturday's Grade 3 Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream Park. After forcing jockey Kent Desormeaux to jump off in order to load into the starting gate, Unrivaled Belle uneventfully took Desormeaux one lap around Gulfstream Park's oval to a 1 3/4-length victory in the $150,000 Rampart.

Champagne Eyes, a speed horse who didn't break well, finished second, a head in front of Miss Singhsix. The second- and third-place finishers are trained by Marty Wolfson. They were followed in the order of finish by Miss Match, Aurora Lights, Even Road, Don't Forget Gil and Bambera, who stumbled at the start and cut a tendon, according to trainer Pablo Andrade.

It was the fourth victory from seven starts for Unrivaled Belle, a 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song owned by Peter Vegso and Gary Seidler and trained by Bill Mott. It was her first victory in a graded stakes.

Unrivaled Belle has acted up before almost every one of her races, Mott said. Saturday, she was on her way to the starting gate when she froze, according to Desormeaux. The jockey jumped off the filly and she was led into the starting gate with Desormeaux then climbing aboard.

Desormeaux let Unrivaled Belle run away from the gate and she cleared the field around the clubhouse turn. She set fractions of 23.72 seconds, 47.43, 1:11.26, 1:36.25 and covered the mile in 1:49.36 with Champagne Eyes chasing her the entire way. Unrivaled Belle returned $5.80 as the favorite.

"I know she even broke a little tardy because of her antics, but I never attempted to slow her down; I just let her run," Desormeaux said.

Mott said Unrivaled Belle's pre-race antics were not too disconcerting.

"He's been off of her every time he's ridden her," Mott said. "It's just like she kind of wigs out right behind the gate. Once you get her in she's fine."

Mott said Unrivaled Belle would be considered for the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn on April 9 or the La Troienne at Churchill Downs on April 30.