12/08/2012 9:30PM

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.


George More than 1 year ago
Ken McPeek is a very good and underestimated trainer he wins with not too expensive yearlings!!! The Derby is going to be his very soon!!!!
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Baffert should have had her turned out a month ago.
Bud Brown More than 1 year ago
i almost didnt bet this race,BUT i did call a few friends early yesterday to give them Pure Fun,so 8 minutes before the race,I went $2 ATB and $2 to win just for fun......PURE Fun hahahaha
B More than 1 year ago
That ends that! I thought EP still deserved the Eclipse after the BC as she had just simply done more and Beholder has only one stakes to her name and has been beaten by EP, but two Grade I losses in a row will very probably eliminate her, especially since this was the worst race of her career. I'm not a Baffert basher like many here, but I do question the wisdom of running this filly back again and especially with so many changes at once. Back on Lasix, a new rider, blinkers for the first time. I don't think that many changes at once is helpful to the horse and it leaves one at a loss as to what went wrong. Didn't like blinkers? Didn't connect with the new rider? Who knows, but throwing so many changes at her at once leaves us a tad in the dark.
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Thing is...if it ain't broke don't try to fix it! One narrow loss in BC doesn't rationalize the changes. Maybe she drifted cause she has a physical issue. Long year for a two year old filly.
Ben van den Brink More than 1 year ago
Not using lasix is having an disadvantage from 1 second, or more than five lenghts.
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
Pure Fun races without Lasix.
Robin Cardoza More than 1 year ago
Wow, what a turn of foot by Pure Fun! Executive needs a break. She deserved one after the BC. Not sure why other than greed Baffert ran her again.
John Bradley More than 1 year ago
This is about drugs. Plain and simple. Lasix turns a stiff into a superstar, or lack of, turns a superstar into a stiff. Don't forget to vote for Clemens and Bonds.
Jade Sword More than 1 year ago
Lasix is anti-bleeding medication, genius.
jttf More than 1 year ago
when there is enough money for a midwest or eastern horse to come out to cal. it only takes one or two shippers to beat a full field of cal horses in 2 turn events. why would anyone bet a regular lasix using horse, who didnt run on lasix in their last race ? dont we always see a flat lack luster horse coming back from dubai or ascot ? lasix will always mess with the ability of a horse. this is lasix 101. shame on baffert for not knowing this tidbit.
Gerardo Helguera More than 1 year ago
I was impressed with how Blonde Fog fought gamely at the inside but got out run late. That was only her second start of her career she is a future beastly filly.