12/10/2015 2:30PM

Opportunity knocks for nine fillies in Starlet

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Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography
Stays in Vegas has run her best races on turf, but gets another shot on dirt in the Grade 1 Starlet.

CYPRESS, Calif. – This is a good month to have a top-class 2-year-old filly in Southern California.

Songbird, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland on Oct. 31 and two Grade 1 races on this circuit earlier this year, returned to serious training last week after a month’s vacation. Her absence leaves Saturday’s $300,000 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos without a clear favorite among nine entrants.

The fillies in the Starlet have something to prove.

“I think we’re all in the same boat,” trainer Bob Baffert said.

Baffert has two hopefuls – Pretty N Cool and Treasuring – among the contenders in the Grade 1 race at 1 1/16 miles. Pretty N Cool won Grade 2 sprints at Belmont Park and Del Mar earlier this year, but has never raced around two turns.

 

There are four other stakes winners in the field – Pacific Heat, Patriotic Diamond, Stays in Vegas, and Surfside Tiara. Street Fancy, Sutton’s Smile and Treasuring have finished second or third in stakes. The Starlet will be the stakes debut for Mama’s Sugar, a maiden race winner at Del Mar on Nov. 27.

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The Starlet is the leading race on a nine-race program that begins at 12:30 p.m. Pacific. The card includes the $100,000 King Glorious Stakes for California-breds at a mile.

Starlet Stakes, Race 8

KEY CONTENDERS

Pretty N Cool (Last 3 Beyers: 68-80-74)

◗ Pretty N Cool was a one-length winner of the Grade 2 Matron Stakes at six furlongs at Belmont Park on Oct. 15, but last of five with a dismal performance as the 3-5 favorite in the Desi Arnaz Stakes at seven furlongs Del Mar on Nov. 15.

Baffert disregards the performance. He was more encouraged by Pretty N Cool’s recent workouts, including six furlongs in 1:13 at Santa Anita last Sunday.

“You can throw that race out,” Baffert said of the loss. “We don’t know how far she wants to go, but she’s fast.”

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◗ At Del Mar, Pretty N Cool won the Grade 2 Sorrento Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs in August and was a well-beaten second to Songbird in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 5.

Stays in Vegas (Last 3 Beyers: 80-81-58)

◗ Stays in Vegas has won four stakes in her five starts, with the lone loss a fifth-place finish in the Debutante behind Songbird.

“We forgave her for that,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said.

◗ Stays in Vegas won two sprint stakes in Northern California during the summer and has won two stakes at a mile on turf this fall, including the Pike Place Dancer at Golden Gate Fields on Nov. 1.

“The thinking is she’s real solid on turf, and when she did run on dirt in the Debutante it was against Songbird,” Hollendorfer said. “This is a Grade 1 and we should give this horse a chance to run on the dirt and try to get a win or a placing.”

◗ Hollendorfer said one key for Stays in Vegas is her ability to rate.

“She’ll sit in a pocket and she waits for a rider to ask her,” he said.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 3 Stays in Vegas. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is 13-0-2-3 over the past five years going turf to dirt in Southern California with last-out winners.Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Treasuring (Last 3 Beyers: 78-74-41)

By Smart Strike, Treasuring was second in the Arnaz Stakes, closing to within a half-length of winner Lucky Folie at the wire. A longer race in the Starlet appeals to Baffert.

“She’s bred for it,” Baffert said.

Treasuring will start from the rail in the Starlet and should be part of the pace. She is jockey Victor Espinoza’s first mount of the Los Alamitos winter meeting.

Pacific Heat (Beyers: 73-78)

◗ Pacific Heat beat maidens here by 13 1/2 lengths in her debut at 5 1/2 furlongs on Sept. 25, and won the Golden State Juvenile at seven furlongs at Del Mar on Oct. 29 in her only other start. Pacific Heat was supplemented to this race for $15,000. She will be ridden by Joe Talamo, who is expected to have her near the front.

“She’s got a good mind and she’s still learning,” trainer Peter Eurton said. “On this track, I think she can go a mile and a sixteenth.”


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 6 Surfside Tiara. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is 21-8-7-1 over the past five years with juveniles on dirt going a route of ground for the first time. Click for more details. Mike Hogan