12/28/2011 1:22PM

Santa Anita: Bargain buy Starship Flare major threat in Blue Norther

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Benoit & Associates
Starship Flare (right), who was nosed out by More Than Love in the Miesque, looks like a solid contender in Friday's Blue Norther.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Starship Flare was bought privately in south Florida during the autumn. Nearly three months later, the transaction seems more and more like a bargain to trainer Kristin Mulhall.

“We stole her,” she said.

A former $32,000 maiden claimer, Starship Flare finished second by a nose in the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes for 2-year-old fillies over a mile on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 25 in her California debut.

As a result, Starship Flare will be favored to win her first stakes in Friday’s $75,000 Blue Norther Stakes over a mile on turf at Santa Anita.

Owned by Rustin and Juliana Kretz, Starship Flare has won 2 of 5 starts and $46,565. She was acquired after winning a starter allowance at Calder in mid-September and was a troubled sixth in a similar race on Oct. 24, her first starts for the Kretzes.

She arrived in Southern California in mid-November. At that point, Mulhall thought that Starship Flare was a promising filly “once we got her at the barn.’”

The build-up to the Miesque Stakes was not ideal, she said.

“I was getting to know her,” Mulhall said. “She had a little mucus off the plane and we had to go easy on her.”

For the Blue Norther, which drew nine 2-year-old fillies, Starship Flare is likely to have a favorable trip. She set the pace in the Miesque, but Mulhall would prefer she stalk the pace. The presence of Coup de Coeur, the winner of the Soviet Problem Stakes at Fresno in October, and Assure, the winner of a maiden race for sprinters at Hollywood Park earlier this month, should assure sufficient pace.

“I think she’ll do anything,” Mulhall said. “I think it would be better if she had a little bit of a target.”

Two other fillies in the field have placed in stakes. Evelyn’s Dancer and Eva’s Joy were second and third in the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park on Nov. 20. Evelyn’s Dancer starts on turf for the first time in the Blue Norther.

Including Assure, five fillies beat maidens in their last starts, in California, England, and Kentucky.

Byrama beat maidens at Carlisle, England, in July. Now owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partnership, she was transferred to trainer Simon Callaghan in August. A start in the Miesque Stakes was considered.

“She had a slight setback and had sore shins,” Callaghan said. “We had to back off. We were going to wait and go for an allowance race but she’s training really good. She’s a filly we really like.”