Morning Matcha asserted her class at Parx Racing on Monday when she made a sustained wide rally to capture the $100,000 Unique Bella Stakes for the second consecutive season.

The Unique Bella, a seven-furlong event for Pennsylvania-bred fillies and mares, was the 5-year-old debut for Morning Matcha, a multiple stakes winner trained by Butch Reid.

The card also included the $100,000 Page McKenney Handicap at seven furlongs for 3-year-old and up Pennsylvania-breds, which was won by the comebacking Far Mo Power.

Sent away the odds-on favorite under jockey Mychel Sanchez, Morning Matcha settled near the back as Could Be a Cougar and Aoife’s Magic alternated for the lead through fractions of 22.67 and 46.58 seconds.

Aoife’s Magic drew away from her primary pace foe on the turn, but Morning Matcha attacked from a three-wide position.

Morning Matcha confronted Aoife’s Magic from the outside in upper stretch, then had enough in the tank to fend off rail-skimming runner-up Doctor Abbie by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:26.33 over a fast track. She paid $3.20

Warrior’s Ransom finished another 1 1/4 lengths back in third. Then came Aoife’s Magic, New Hire, Knickersinatwist, Dewey Doit, Namora, and Could Be a Cougar.

Normandy Life was scratched.

Bred by Crane Thoroughbreds, Morning Matcha is by Central Banker out of the multiple stakes-placed mare Home Ice, by Iam the Iceman.

Purchased for $18,000 as a yearling, Morning Matcha is owned by LC Racing, Cash Is King Racing, and Gary Barber. She excels at Parx where she has won 6 of 9 starts over the dirt surface. She finished second in the Grade 1 Cotillion in 2022.

A stakes winner in New York to complete here 2023 campaign, the well-traveled Morning Matcha is also graded-placed at Aqueduct and Delaware Park. Overall, she boasts a record of 7 wins from 25 races for lifetime earnings of $954,940.

Page McKenney Handicap

Far Mo Power was ready to roll following a 280-day layoff, as he charged down the center of the track under jockey Dexter Haddock to win the $,000 Page McKenney.

Trained by Lou Linder Jr., Far Mo Power raced far back by his lonesome as, from the rail out, Uncle Ernie, Twisted Ride, Movisitor, and Liar Side Chat dueled through an opening quarter of 22.93 seconds.

Twisted Ride and Movisitor separated themselves from the other pace contenders after a half-mile clocking of 46.58 seconds with Ninetyprcentmaddie advancing stoutly.

Ninetyprcentmaddie wrested the lead away at the three-sixteenths pole but refused to change leads.  Meanwhile, Haddock advanced along the inside with Far Mo Power on the turn, angled widest into the stretch, and came with a strong kick.

Ninetyprcentmaddie tried hard, but Far Mo Power had too much momentum. He raced the seven-eighths in 1:25.82 and finished 1 1/4 lengths better than Ninetyprcentmaddie.

Favored Uncle Ernie was a head back in third and was followed under the wire by Meet Me At Mundis, Twisted Ride, Beren, Young Squire, Movisitor, Eagles Cry, Veeson, and Liar Side Chat.

Natural Harbor and Dollarization were scratched. There was a slight delay to the start after Meet Me At Mundis returned to the paddock for a shoe repair as the field neared the starting gate.

Far Mo Power paid $17 as the fourth choice in the wagering.

“I didn’t think he’d be that far back,” Linder said via telephone after the race. “Dexter said he broke a step slow, so he just let him get into stride. I was a little worried down the backside, but I could just see he was starting to lengthen stride. He managed to work out a trip through the lane, and we got there.

A consistent 6-year-old son of Uncle Lino, Far Mo Power is best known for upsetting multiple Grade 1 winner Mind Control by a neck but being disqualified for interference in the $200,000 Parx Dirt Mile during the fall of 2022.

Far Mo Power hit the board in all five starts last year, including a third-place finish in Aqueduct’s Stymie on Feb. 25, but missed the remainder of the season after placing third in a high-level allowance at Parx on July 17.

“I was pushing a little too hard to get him back in the [2023] Dirt Mile,” Linder admitted. “He just wasn’t responding, and he had a nagging foot injury. I talked to [owner Joseph E. Sutton] and said why don’t we do right by the horse, get him fresh and get him back. It was the right thing to do.”

Bred by Peter Giangiulio, Far Mo Power  is out of the multiple stakes-placed J. D. Safari, by Power by Far. He has won 8 of 17 starts for earnings of $450,168 and is 5 for 6 at seven furlongs.

“I think seven-eighths and a mile is his wheelhouse,” Linder said as he mentioned the 2024 Parx Dirt Mile as a logical long-term goal. “I learned from last year not to push him too hard forward. If it comes, it comes. We’ll take it one race at a time.


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Cover Photo Credit to Barbara Weidl/Equi-Photo

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