01/06/2011 6:04PM

2010 Eclipse Awards: Turbulent Descent

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Benoit & Associates

With the exception of one rocky plane ride, Turbulent Descent’s first season of racing went much smoother than her name might suggest. Undefeated in three starts, she capped her campaign with a win in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet in December and is now a finalist for champion 2-year-old filly of 2010.

Turbulent Descent was a late-comer to the division. She did not make her debut until the Oak Tree meet at Hollywood Park in October, more than six months after being purchased for $160,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. sale of 2-year-olds in training in April 2010. Following the auction, Turbulent Descent was sent west to the barn of trainer Mike Puype. But the trip was a bit, well, turbulent, according to Greg Gilchrist, the retired trainer who serves as a bloodstock advisor to the filly’s majority owner, the California-based Blinkers On Racing.

“She wasn’t named when we bought her, then coming back here from Florida the plane took a real dive, and she poked a hole in her ankle,” Gilchrist said. “It wasn’t bad, but Mike had to lose a little time with her. I told the owners that if they’re lucky, they’ll be able to tell that story standing in the winner’s circle someday after a Grade 1 race.”

That day came on Dec. 11. Turbulent Descent made a statement in the $412,250 Starlet at Hollywood Park. She won the race by 1 1/4 lengths over a field that included Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante winner Tell a Kelly to be heralded as California’s top-ranked 2-year-old filly. The Starlet was Turbulent Descent’s two-turn debut, and she was content to sit in fourth in the early stages of the 1 1/16-mile race. She responded willingly when jockey David Flores asked her to go after the leaders with about three-eighths of a mile to run.

“What an acceleration she had,” Flores said after the Starlet.

“I’m excited. I can tell what kind of horse she is.”

Turbulent Descent was assigned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94 for her Starlet, and the number ended up being the best two-turn figure put up by a 2-year-old filly in 2010. She had been the favorite for the Starlet on the strength of her cruising win in the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes at seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on Nov. 21. Turbulent Descent raced with the pace while three wide, then left her rivals in the stretch to win by 1 1/2 lengths. It was her stakes debut.

“She did it easy, and in a soft way,” said Flores.

Turbulent Descent’s subsequent win in the Starlet would make her the first filly to sweep both the Moccasin and Starlet. Prior to those races she had won a maiden special weight on Oct. 3. Turbulent Descent covered the required six furlongs in a brisk 1:09.80, to earn a strong Beyer Figure of 91.

Turbulent Descent is from the first crop of Congrats, a son of A.P. Indy whose biggest career win came in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita in 2005. He also accounted for the Alysheba at Churchill Downs in 2004. Turbulent Descent’s dam is Roger’s Sue, an unraced daughter of Forestry. Ocala Stud bred Turbulent Descent in Florida.

Puype said the filly, who in her first season of racing earned $328,350, could open up her 3-year-old season in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at a mile at Santa Anita on Feb. 5. From there, the goal would be the Santa Anita Oaks.

“If you take away the Breeders’ Cup, I’ll match her campaign against anyone’s,” Puype said. “She’s top class.”

PAST PERFORMANCES: Turbulent Descent's 2010 season PPs (PDF)

KEY RACE REPLAY: Hollywood Starlet at Hollywood Park >>