Updated on 09/15/2011 1:37PM

Habibti captures Hollywood Starlet


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Ending an autumn of disappointment, Habibti scored an important win in the $358,000 * on Sunday at Hollywood Park, holding off a late rally from longtime leader You.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza for trainer Bob Baffert, Habibti ($6) finished 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.12, winning by a head. The Starlet was Habibti's second win in a Grade 1, but first around two turns. She won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante over seven furlongs in August.

Sent off as the second choice in the betting, Habibti was well-placed throughout. You, the 4-5 favorite who was ridden by Jerry Bailey, led on the first turn from Tali'sluckybusride through fractions of 23.57 and 47.11 seconds. Tali'sluckbusride drew within a length midway on the backstretch with Renaissance Woman and Habibti stalking that pair.

At the end of the backstretch, Tali'sluckybusride moved to within a half-length of You with Habibti closing three-wide. Those three pulled away from Renaissance Woman on the final turn with Habibti making a strong move on the outside to lead in early stretch.

In mid-stretch, You rallied on the inside but could not overtake Habibti.

"It got a little hairy at the end," Baffert said. "It was nice to beat You on the square."

Tali'sluckybusride finished 8 1-2 lengths behind You, and was followed by Renaissance Woman and Talkeetna.

You was making her first start since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, emerging from that race with a temperature. Sunday's result did not discourage trainer Bobby Frankel.

"Jerry said she shut down on the turn," Frankel said. "She needs to track something. She came on again on her own. It's the first time she's been on the lead. That's why I wanted a target."

The Starlet result was a relief for Baffert, who watched frustrations mount in recent months. Habibti was scratched from the Oak Leaf Stakes in September because of a virus. A month later, she finished seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Belmont Park. Habibti is owned by Thoroughbred Corp.

"Missing the Oak Leaf really put us back and the Breeders' Cup was a disaster after drawing the one," Baffert said.

You and Habibti may have a rematch in the $200,000 Las Virgenes Stakes over a mile at Santa Anita on Feb. 10. They are considered California's best chances for the Kentucky Oaks in May.

* In the $73,660 Corona Handicap, Kalookan Queen used a ground-saving trip to win the six-furlong sprint in 1:09.86.

Kalookan Queen ($3.80), who was ridden by Alex Solis, finished six lengths in front of Salty Helen, who was followed by Ivory Tower, Song of the Moment, High Margin and Notable Career.

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