09/11/2013 3:49PM

Barretts at Fairplex: Miss Scatalicious has look of giant killer in Phil D. Shepherd

Benoit & Associates
Miss Scatalicious pulls a 42-1 upset at Del Mar in her debut.

POMONA, Calif. – Far from the big-league spotlight in early spring at Turf Paradise, trainer Molly Pearson was getting her 2-year-olds ready.

The group looked good, except for one. Miss Scatalicious looked exceptional.

“I had eight or nine babies, and she was outworking every one we had,” Pearson said.

By March, Miss Scatalicious already was working 35’s.

“I had her all paid up to the stakes in spring at Turf Paradise,” Pearson said. “But she was too nice to be running that early.”

Pearson put her away for three months, slowed her down, and got her ready for Del Mar. A maiden-claiming debut would have been appropriate for the inexpensive daughter of Scat Daddy purchased during the Keeneland September yearling sale.

“Paying only $14,000 for her, I could have gotten away with running her at the bottom,” Pearson said.

Instead, Miss Scatalicious entered a special weight. At 42-1, she was the longest shot in the field.

“We were confident we could be in the top three,” Pearson said.

Miss Scatalicious did more than hit the board, she lit it up. She won the 5 1/2-furlong race by a neck at $86.20 under Saul Arias.

“I don’t bet, but my owners had a field day.” Pearson said.

Miss Scatalicious earned a 74 Beyer Speed Figure, among the top figures by a filly maiden winner at Del Mar. On Friday at the Los Angeles County Fair, Miss Scatalicious makes her second start as a top contender in the $50,000 Phil D. Shepherd Stakes for juvenile fillies. Seven entered the seven-furlong race, but it boils down to a match between David and Goliath.

Pearson trains Miss Scatalicious; Bob Baffert trains the $125,000 filly Be Proud, a maiden sitting on a smasher in her third start. The five others are droppers Love Smitten and Santa Lucia, debut winner Take One, and maidens Elegant Trick and Appearance.

The 74 Beyer that front-runner Miss Scatalicious earned is tops in the Shepherd field. The number was validated when the filly she beat, Belle of the Fleet, returned to win by more than four lengths with a 77.

Friday on the five-eighth-mile Barretts at Fairplex oval, Miss Scatalicious tries to stretch her speed to seven furlongs.

“The distance is always a worry and the turns are a concern,” Pearson admitted. “She’s a pretty athletic filly. I’ve always felt she would run farther.”

This is a big week for Pearson, who plans to start upset maiden winner Storm Reveler on Sunday in the $100,000 Barretts Juvenile. By then, Pearson will be long gone. She leaves Friday for Keeneland, where she hopes to find another Miss Scatalicious.

“I’ve always done really well with young horses and 2-year-olds in particular,” Pearson said.

She was being modest. The past five years, Pearson has won 39 races from 172 juvenile starters at all levels.

However, Baffert-trained maiden Be Proud appears formidable in the Shepherd. A daughter of Proud Citizen, she finished a closing second in her debut, followed by a better-than-looked fourth in her second start. Both races were at Del Mar.

Be Proud galloped out strongly in the six-furlong maiden race last out, worked a smart half-mile since, and figures to love two turns and an extra furlong. Be Proud is the program favorite under jockey Martin Garcia.