12/10/2016 9:02PM

Abel Tasman rallies from far back to win Starlet Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Joe Talamo guides Abel Tasman to an upset victory in the Starlet for 2-year-old fillies.

CYPRESS, Calif. - Abel Tasman was seventh of nine early in Saturday’s $301,380 Starlet Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Los Alamitos, a position that surprised jockey Joe Talamo.

 “We thought we’d be closer to the front,” Talamo said.

When several fillies got away from Abel Tasman through the first half-mile, Talamo altered strategy and put the filly in a stalking position. The adjusted plan worked perfectly. Abel Tasman ($27.20) rallied from fifth in the final three furlongs to score an upset win in the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, beating 4-5 favorite American Gal.

“It worked out well,” Talamo said. “I was able to save ground on the first turn and on the backstretch.”

The win puts Abel Tasman among the leading prospects for the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks at Santa Anita on April 8. The California division of 3-year-old fillies for 2017 is led by Champagne Room, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Nov. 5.

Abel Tasman won her third consecutive race, and stakes debut, in the Starlet for owner and breeder Clearsky Farms and trainer Simon Callaghan. By Quality Road, Abel Tasman won a maiden race at a mile in her second start at Santa Anita on Sept. 30 and an allowance race at seven furlongs at Del Mar on Nov. 18.

Talamo has been the regular rider for Abel Tasman in her four starts.

Callaghan expected Abel Tasman to be on or near the lead in the Starlet, which drew a field of nine.

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“I thought she’d be more forwardly placed,” Callaghan said. “I told Joe, ‘Don’t be afraid to put her on the lead.’

“When she got outside, she got more comfortable. She’s a big filly and has a good stride.”

Abel Tasman moved outside of runners with a four-wide move early in the long stretch. She was third with a furlong to go, trailing American Gal by 1 1/2 lengths. Abel Tasman was timed in 1:42.25.

American Gal was third in the BC Juvenile Fillies after a wide trip from an outside post in a field of 12. She had a wide trip through the Starlet, much to the frustration of jockey Mike Smith.

“It was the same kind of thing as the Breeders’ Cup,” Smith said. “I couldn’t get behind them to get in and I couldn’t get in front of them and get over. With a normal trip, maybe I win.”

American Gal finished 3 1/4 lengths in front of Mopotism, a 33-1 shot who is a maiden after three races.

Tapped finished fourth, followed by Union Strike, Sandy’s Surprise, Berned, Fact of Life, and Go On Mary. Union Strike won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 3 and was sixth in the BC Juvenile Fillies.

Abel Tasman has earned $247,860. She was supplemented to the Starlet for $10,000 when entries were taken on Wednesday.

“I think she was getting good at the right time,” Callaghan said. “I thought she had the stamina for it.

“We think a lot of her. We’ll be patient. We’ll back off and we’ll get her ready for the Santa Anita Oaks.”