08/16/2013 3:32PM

Del Mar: Unusual Hottie must wait to strike in Solana Beach

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Benoit & Associates
Unusual Hottie has won two stakes this season, including the Redondo Beach at Betfair Hollywood Park.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Unusual Hottie’s perfect record in 2013 ended when she finished second behind Closing Range in the Osunitas Stakes at Del Mar on July 20. Unusual Hottie made her customary run from off the pace, led in deep stretch, but was beaten a neck.

“I think she got caught off guard,” trainer Jeff Mullins said. “I think she thought the job was done.”

Avoiding the same circumstance is the goal for Sunday’s $150,000 Solana Beach Handicap for California-bred fillies and mares at a mile on turf at Del Mar. Jockey Joe Talamo retains the mount on Unusual Hottie. He was aboard for her first three starts of 2013, all wins at Betfair Hollywood Park.

The sequence included victories in the Fran’s Valentine Stakes and Redondo Beach Stakes, both at a mile on turf. In those races, Unusual Hottie rallied three wide to reach the front in the final furlong. The same thing happened in the Osunitas until Closing Range came rolling along late.

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“She tends to wait a little bit,” Mullins said of Unusual Hottie. “We don’t want to make the lead too soon. I think she’ll put in an honest race.”

Owned by her breeder, Seyyed Nilforushan, Unusual Hottie drew the rail in the Solana Beach and will carry 123 pounds. The 125-pound highweight is defending race winner Halo Dolly, who won the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap at Hollywood Park in April. Halo Dolly, who was third in the Luther Burbank Handicap at Santa Rosa on July 28, tends to race as a stalker. Unusual Hottie will have Halo Dolly to catch in the stretch.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Halo Dolly has won 15 of 31 starts and earned $775,636. This year, however, the Wilshire is her only win in six starts.

The Solana Beach drew a field of seven. The field includes Qiaona, who won the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for 3-year-old California-bred fillies at Santa Anita in January; Bella Viaggia, who won a division of the California Cup Distaff at Santa Anita last October; and Spring Bloom, who has won her last two starts.

Trained by Rafael Becerra, Spring Bloom was claimed for $32,000 when second at Santa Anita in April. She won an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields on June 1 and an optional claimer here on Aug. 4, giving Becerra and RG Racing Stables a reason to try the Solana Beach.

“If she runs like she did the other day, she’ll be tough,” Becerra said.