Updated on 09/16/2011 8:28AM

Astra powers past Starine


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The stretch run that Astra unleashed to win Monday's $500,000 at Hollywood Park left her connections amazed.

In arguably the finest performances of a career that includes seven stakes wins, Astra denied Starine a seemingly certain win in the Grade 1 Gamely.

She was ridden by Kent Desormeaux, who was convinced in early stretch that his patient ride had given Starine too much of an advantage.

"She opened up on me turning for home," Desormeaux said of Starine. "I thought, 'We're second. I messed up. I should have engaged.' "

Through the final furlong, Astra closed with every stride. She won by a head over Starine, finishing 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:46.93. New York shipper Voodoo Dancer finished third, followed by Crazy Ensign, Snow Dance, and Old Money.

The victory gave the Allen Paulson Living Trust and trainer Laura de Seroux their second Grade 1 score of the Memorial Day weekend. On Saturday, Azeri won the Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap.

In the Gamely, Astra ($5.20) was the 123-pound highweight and slight favorite.

Both Astra and Starine had favorable trips. Starine was third early, tracking the pace of 24.62 and 48.32 seconds shared by Old Money and Snow Dance.

Astra, who broke slowly, was fifth early, racing three lengths off the leaders. Starine challenged the pacesetters on the final turn and emerged with the lead turning for home. She led by 1 1/2 lengths in midstretch, when Astra found her best stride. Even then, de Seroux was convinced that Astra was beaten.

"I thought we wouldn't get there," she said. "But she gave three lunging, on-your-belly strides."

Astra, who won the 2000 Gamely, has won 10 of 14 starts and $1,088,424. A 6-year-old, Astra will be pointed for a defense of her title in the Beverly Hills Handicap on June 29.

Ladies Din gets long-sought win

After twice finishing second to stablemate Silic in 1999 and 2000, Ladies Din ($6.80) won Monday's $500,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile by a convincing three lengths.

The Shoemaker was Ladies Din's first victory in a Grade 1 since the 2000 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar.

Unlike the 2000 running, when he was beaten a half-length in a wide trip, Ladies Din had a perfect journey in Monday's race. Ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, Ladies Din was sixth for the first half-mile, part of a pack chasing Orientate and Special Ring.

With a three-wide rally, Ladies Din reached contention on the final turn. Redattore took the lead from Orientate in midstretch, but could not hold off Ladies Din, who finished a mile on turf in 1:33.39.

"Ladies Din is a special horse," trainer Julio Canani said. "I don't want to sound like sour grapes, because Silic was a great horse, but [Ladies Din] should have won two years ago."

The 7-year-old Ladies Din has won 12 of 35 starts and $1,955,504. He races for Terry Lanni and Bernie Schiappa.

Redattore finished second, a length in front of 71-1 Spinelessjellyfish. Orientate held fourth despite the fast pace, and was followed by Thady Quill, Special Ring, Casey Griffin, Touch of the Blues, The Tin Man, and Irish Prize.

Captain Squire upsets in Barrera

A return to sprinting gave Captain Squire an upset win in Monday's $150,000 Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes.

After running a mile or longer for most of his career, Captain Squire prevailed through a gritty stretch run, pulling an upset at 14-1. Ridden by Chance Rollins, Captain Squire ($30.60) ran seven furlongs in 1:21.95, winning by a neck over Fonz's. Kamsack finished third, followed by Royal Moro and Raven Power, the even-money favorite.

The Barrera changed considerably at the start when Royal Moro, who was expected to be part of the pace, stumbled badly.

Captain Squire's victory in the Grade 3 Barrera was the richest in the career of trainer Jeff Mullins and owners Bob Bone and Jeff Deiner.

"We had been pointing for this," Mullins said. "We had been fighting him so much in the first turn that I think it was detrimental. He'd been routing a long time and I knew he'd be fit."