02/07/2009 12:00AM

Boys next for Stardom Bound

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Stardom Bound picked up in 2009 right where she left off in 2008 by scoring an impressive win in the Grade 1, $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita, but now the stakes will get far more intriguing.

Immediately following the race, Michael Iavarone, the co-president of the IEAH Stable partnership that now owns Stardom Bound, said she would make her next start against males in the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 4, which is a prep to the Kentucky Derby on May 2.

"I think that's what the racing fans want, to put her against the boys in the Santa Anita Derby," Iavarone said. "I don't know what else she has to prove against the girls. She is special. Real special."

The victory was the fourth straight for Stardom Bound, who completed her 2008 campaign with a victory here in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies for trainer Christopher Paasch. That win secured her an Eclipse Award as the champion 2-year-old filly of 2008. Stardom Bound has won three straight at Santa Anita, including the Oak Leaf Stakes, which is another reason Iavarone thinks it's worth taking a shot against the colts on this track.

"This is her racetrack," he said.

Stardom Bound ($2.80) was heavily favored, but had a few anxious moments because she was caught in traffic and was so fresh that she was pulling hard while inside and between horses. Jockey Mike Smith finally found a seam at the quarter pole, and Stardom Bound did the rest. She finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Haka, who beat Saucey Evening by a neck for second.

Stardom Bound completed one mile on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface in 1:36.43.

This was the first start for Stardom Bound since IEAH purchased her at auction last November for $5.7 million. She was then turned over to trainer Bobby Frankel, who admitted he was nervous Saturday.

"I didn't have her cranked up at all," he said. "I kept going over everything in my mind. I didn't want to be the one to get her beat. She just scooted. She's a special filly."

Stardom Bound has now won four times in six starts.