04/25/2012 4:29PM

Hollywood Park: Starlight Magic takes shot at cash in Melair Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Starlight Magic will stretch out in Saturday’s $300,000 Melair Stakes for California-bred 3-year-old fillies.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – In the last month, Starlight Magic has earned her way into Saturday’s $300,000 Melair Stakes for California-bred 3-year-old fillies at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Since Starlight Magic finished second in the Evening Jewel Stakes for statebreds at Santa Anita on March 31, her first start since October, trainer Mark Glatt has had the lucrative Melair Stakes as a goal. At the same time, he closely watched the filly’s training for clues as to her well-being.

“If she’d given me any indication that I shouldn’t try it, I’d go in a different direction,” Glatt said Wednesday. “It’s a $300,000 purse against horses we feel she’s just as good as or better.”

Owned by Cory Wagner, Starlight Magic won the California Cup Juvenile Fillies last October, beating Willa B Awesome, who will be favored in the Melair. This year, Willa B Awesome has won two graded stakes at Santa Anita – the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel in January and an upset win in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on March 31.

“I’ve beaten her before and I hope I can beat her again,” Glatt said.

Warren’s Amber, who beat Starlight Magic in the Evening Jewel, also is part of the Melair field.

Glatt’s concern with the Melair is not with the competition, but the race distance. The Melair is run over 1 1/8 miles. Last fall, after the California Cup Juvenile Fillies over 1 1/16 miles, Starlight Magic underwent surgery to have a bone chip removed from an ankle and knee.

The Evening Jewel, over 6 1/2 furlongs, was her comeback. For the Melair, Rafael Bejarano is booked to ride Starlight Magic.

“It’s not an ideal situation,” Glatt said of the distance. “I couldn’t have asked her to do any better since that last race. Bejarano feels confident with the stretch out.”

The Melair Stakes is the strongest of four stakes worth $125,000 or more on Saturday’s California Gold Rush program. The $300,000 Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds did not draw a strong field. Rousing Sermon, who won have been a heavy favorite after a third in the $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on April 1, is a candidate for the Kentucky Derby instead.

The Snow Chief Stakes has an expected field of 10, including Stoney Fleece, winner of the Grade 3 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park last November, and Real Conundrum, third in the Echo Eddie Stakes at Santa Anita on March 31.