12/06/2012 4:10PM

Hollywood Park: Executiveprivilege out for big finish in Hollywood Starlet

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Barbara D. Livingston
Executiveprivilege will have a new rider in Mike Smith and add blinkers for the Hollywood Starlet.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The only blemish on Executiveprivilege’s six-race campaign is a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

The loss still stings Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, largely because it may cost Executiveprivilege the championship as the nation’s outstanding 2-year-old filly of 2012.

“She could be undefeated,” he said earlier this week.

Executiveprivilege can make a late bid for the support of voters when she starts as a heavy favorite in Saturday’s $500,000 Hollywood Starlet Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park. The Starlet is a Grade 1 and is run over a track where Executiveprivilege is unbeaten. Last summer, she won a maiden race and the Landaluce Stakes with little difficulty here.

She won two Grade 1 races in September – the Del Mar Debutante and Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita – but was beaten a length by Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup.

For Saturday’s race, Baffert has implemented two noteworthy changes, both firsts for Executiveprivilege: Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has the mount, and the filly will be fitted with blinkers.

The addition of Smith reflects a change in Baffert’s approach to employing jockeys. Rafael Bejarano rode many of the stable’s leading horses earlier this year, but Baffert has opted to “spread it around” in recent weeks. Smith rode Game On Dude to a victory in the Native Diver Stakes for Baffert last weekend.

Bejarano was aboard Executiveprivilege for her first six starts. In the BC Juvenile Fillies, she was as far back as fourth on the turn and was beaten a length after drifting wide in the final furlong.

“The strategy in the Breeders’ Cup was not the way to go, but it’s over now,” Baffert said.

The blinkers are designed to keep Executiveprivilege “from ducking out,” Baffert said. “It cost her the Breeders’ Cup. She’s been working with blinkers.”

Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman, Executiveprivilege is part of a field of eight in the Starlet, which is run over 1 1/16 miles and is the ninth on a 10-race program. The Starlet is part of the qualifying system for the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 3.

The Kentucky Oaks field will be determined by a points system in 2013. The first four finishers of the Starlet receive qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 basis.

Baffert insists that Executiveprivilege’s loss in the BC Juvenile Fillies is not why she is running on Saturday, that he is not trying to impress uncertain voters before the end of the year.

“I was going to run her anyway,” Baffert said. “She’s doing well. I’ve got to run her.”

The Starlet field features two other stakes winners – Miss Empire, who has won two minor stakes, and Midnight Ballet, the winner of the Sharp Cat Stakes here in her stakes debut on Nov. 11. Miss Empire won the Pike Place Dancer Stakes on turf at Golden Gate Fields on Oct. 27, but was ninth in the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes on turf here Nov. 24.

Midnight Ballet closed from sixth in a field of seven to win the Sharp Cat over 1 1/16 miles by three-quarters of a length over Renee’s Titan, who starts in the Starlet. Saturday’s field also drew Scarlet Strike, who was third in that race.

A quick pace from the Baffert-trained maiden race winner Blonde Fog, or Rhodium, fourth in the Sharp Cat, will help Midnight Ballet, who will be ridden by Julien Leparoux.

“The two turns is to her advantage,” trainer Tom Proctor said. “I hope they go quite fast, but we’ll let Julien ride her and see what happens. I didn’t think I’d fit this well.

“I kind of like her chances. To run for a half-million at this time of year is pretty good.”

Renee’s Titan will be closer to the front. She fought for the lead with Scarlet Strike in the last furlong of the Sharp Cat, edging that filly but failing to hold off Midnight Ballet.

“She likes the track, and I think she can run well,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “We like our filly and the distance won’t be a problem.

Asked if he can beat Executiveprivilege, O’Neill had a quick answer.

“I think we can,” he said.

avlamal More than 1 year ago
i told u losers execcutive privilege had no shot read my post yesterday in this article i told u-i cant help it if ui dont listen to experience this was too easy of a win for me
Anthony More than 1 year ago
You did say he wasn't going to win yesterday, but you also lost. You picked the wrong horses. Pretty much makes you a loser. Some of us here, had the winner. Some of us here hit pretty big. You picked two horses, both lost. How much did you lose?
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
When I saw Ken McPeek's late entry, Pure Fun, I saw trouble for Baffert. Never bet against KP when he puts in a fair long shot. As predicted, Blonde Fog took the lead early, and came in SECOND. Oh those Baffert Placers! Great race from last to a zooming first to the wire. Congrats, Pure Fun, Garrett Gomez and Kenny McPeek. She's a he// of a filly to watch for next year!
Anthony More than 1 year ago
She was very impressive today. This was a filly moving forward. McPeek isn't sending her out west, and spending 20G without thinking he had a real shot. Very happy, she ran lights out today. $22,000 purchase, that's why you got to love this sport.
Anthony More than 1 year ago
And it doesnt matter, Baffert running a tired horse for a title you didn't deserve, LOVE IT
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
2/5 and off the board and even beat by rabbit stable mate. Who's fault was it today bobby? change riders.
Anthony More than 1 year ago
Yeah, now its back to Garcia, blinks off, and maybe put front wraps? He should have just rest her, she is a nice horse. He wanted to win the Eclipse and put this horse in a bad situation. She drifted in the BC, tired horse!!! This is why I commented in the past that I question him as a "horseman". He obviously gets amazing flesh and is charismatic, not sure why the horse ran. If she won the BC, she is not running 4 weeks later before the end of the year. She is at the farm growing up.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Right. He's not a horseman, he's a salesman and manager, and always was.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Now come the excuses, oh, and the Rider change!
Mark More than 1 year ago
East Coast! Dominance continues! Yet another grade 1 on cali ground!
Bud Brown More than 1 year ago
im going Pure Fun
Anthony More than 1 year ago
Need her as well. If she wins I hit Pick 4, I'm all in the last leg. Have to think McPeek came here because he feels he has a legit shot
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
good pick.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
Very astute!
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Until she beats Beholder - - - She hasn't beaten the Champ.
Anthony More than 1 year ago
She did already, twice. I still believe Beholder won the Championshio BC day
Steve More than 1 year ago
once, by a nose
Steve More than 1 year ago
much like hoy, juvenile awards aren't decided at 5.5 and 7 furlongs
Jordan More than 1 year ago
The Executiveprivilege-Beholder Eclipse race is not Union Rags-Hansen. Union Rags has won a grade 1 and a grade 2 and Hansen the ungraded Kentucky Cup Juvenile before they met in the BC. Union Rags was definitely the more accomplished horse. But when Hansen went out and beat Union Rags on the track in the BC, then the now slight accomplishment advantage for Union Rags was outweighed by Hansen's 1-0 head-to-head edge and the fact Hansen had won the perceived championship race. In contrast, Executiveprivilege entered the BC with accomplishments that towered over Beholder's. While Beholder hadn't won a stakes race, Exec' had won 2 grade 1s, a grade 2, and the formerly graded Landaluce. The resumes weren't c;lose. Beholder goes out and beats Exce' to win the supposedly championship race. And the BC Juvy Fillies is by far the most important race for 2 year old fillies. Beholder beat Exec' fair and square, and won as the best horse. Of all Bejarano's indiscretions on BC weekend, his ride on Exec' wasn't one of them; he kept her towards the favorable rail, saved ground, and gave the filly the entire length of the stretch to run down Beholder. Exec' just couldn't do it. The real difference between the Exce'-Beholder situation and Union Rags-Hansen is that Exec' and Beholder HAD met before the BC. In fact, they had met twice, with Exec winning both. And one of those came in the grade 1 Del Mar Debutante. So, not only is Exec the more accomplished of the two(even with Beholder owning that BC win), she actually leads the head-to-head 2-1. If I were a voter, I would have it dead even going into the Starlet. I would then let the Starlet be the decisive factor. Exec' fails in the Starlet, case closed, Beholder gets the Eclipse. But if Exec' wins the Starlet, that's 3 grade 1s(on 3 different tracks), 5 total stakes, with just that single blemish(a 2nd-it's not like she ran poorly) offset by prior wins over Beholder. Exec' would get my vote.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Wrong. Trainers train horses to peak at biggest races. Beholder beat the best field assembled all year. Union Rags ran 5 wide against the rail speed bias and just couldn't get up. Thus losing Eclipse. Just like Point of Entry lost turf Eclipse by losing to Little Mike on BC day even though he won decisively in Belmont in previous start. You train to win Breeders Cup. Not Starlet.
Steve More than 1 year ago
Correct. beholder lost by a nose in a sprint while giving away race experience. The juvenile fillies was far more conclusive
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Question. Anyone know how much (in $ and cents) does the label "Champion" add to an accomplished "retired" horse offered up for sale the older mare sale at say Barretts or Fasig Tipton? Just wondering.