12/08/2012 8:30PM

Hollywood Park: Pure Fun comes from far back to upset Hollywood Starlet

Benoit & Associates
Pure Fun, ridden by Garrett Gomez, rallies strongly to score at 6-1 in the Hollywood Starlet for 2-year-old fillies.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Pure Fun was so far behind for the first six furlongs of Saturday’s $500,000 Hollywood Starlet Stakes that it seemed doubtful she would have any significant impact on the race.

She was in front when she needed to be. Closing with an eye-catching rally under jockey Garrett Gomez, Pure Fun scored an upset win at 6-1 in the Grade 1 Starlet for 2-year-old fillies.

The win had significant ramifications for the national 2-year-old filly division. With her first stakes win, Pure Fun joins the list of candidates for the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 3.

Executiveprivilege, the 2-5 favorite, could only finish fourth in an attempt for her third Grade 1 win of the year. The loss severely dented Executiveprivilege’s chances of winning the Eclipse Award as the outstanding 2-year-old filly of the year.

Trained by Kenneth McPeek, Pure Fun ($14.40) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.65, winning by a length over Blonde Fog.

Pure Fun trailed by more than 12 lengths on the backstretch and still trailed the runners at the back of the field on the turn. By then, Pure Fun was responding to Gomez’s urging. With a four-wide rally, Pure Fun moved into third with a furlong remaining and zoomed to the front in the final sixteenth.

The trailing margin on the backstretch concerned Gomez. Her late rally left him enthused.

“I let her be where she wanted to be,” he said. “At the half-mile pole, she picked it up. She had a great kick.”

Executiveprivilege, who won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes in September and was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last month, was well-placed throughout under jockey Mike Smith.

Executiveprivilege was third on the backstretch, moved into second behind pacesetter Blonde Fog on the turn, but could not sustain the rally, fading in the final furlong to finish 5 1/2 lengths behind Pure Fun.

“She didn’t punch,” trainer Bob Baffert said, adding that jockey Smith “said she felt flat.”

The Baffert-trained Blonde Fog made her stakes debut in the Starlet, having won a maiden race at Santa Anita in October.

“The winner ran a good race and the other filly ran a good race,”

Baffert said of Pure Fun and Blonde Fog.

Scarlet Strike, a 19-1 outsider, closed from sixth to finish third.

Executiveprivilege was followed by Midnight Ballet, Renee’s Titan, Miss Empire, and Rhodium in the field of eight.

The win left McPeek stunned – and for all the right reasons.

“That was wild,” he said.

Owned by the Magdalena Racing partnership, Pure Fun has won 3 of 8 starts and $343,599. The Starlet was her first stakes win, and second consecutive victory. She earned a trip to California with a win by 9 1/4 lengths in an optional claimer over a mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 24.

“She keeps improving and improving for us,” said McPeek, who did not attend the race and watched on television. “Her race at Churchill Downs, in her last start, was an eye opener.”

So was the Starlet.