12/13/2008 12:00AM

Starlet major test for Alpha Kitten

Michael Burns
Laragh was third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - After Alpha Kitten overcame a poor start to score a sharp maiden win on Labor Day weekend at Del Mar, she earned a rightful place on the list of 2-year-old fillies to watch in California.

Saturday at Hollywood Park, she can confirm whether she belongs near the top of that division.

Alpha Kitten makes her graded stakes debut in the $429,500 Hollywood Starlet Stakes, and the Grade 1 race at 1 1/16 miles will set the tone for the 2009 season. A win, or even a strong finish, will lead to starts in the Grade 1 races for 3-year-old fillies at the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

In the Starlet, Alpha Kitten is making her first start around two turns, having run 5 1/2 furlongs in her maiden race and six furlongs when second in the Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 19.

Those are the only two starts of her career. While she may lack experience, Alpha Kitten has an abundance of potential. Owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Sadler were aware of that when they deliberately bypassed the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita in September and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile there in October.

"We've always thought that she wants to run further because she finishes so well," Sadler said. "That's the question for her. I feel confident."

Sadler said he and the Mosses had thoughts of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, but nixed the idea.

"Mr. Moss said take your time," Sadler said. "She won at the very end of Del Mar and the choice was to run here. We were being conservative."

Alpha Kitten's promising form will attract support, but she must beat two stakes winners - Laragh and Pamona Ball.

Laragh, trained by John Terranova for a partnership, was third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 24. Sent off as the 5-2 favorite, Laragh led to the final sixteenth of that race and finished a length behind Maram.

The Starlet will be Laragh's first start on a synthetic track since she won a maiden race at seven furlongs at Woodbine in August. In three subsequent starts, she finished fifth in the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes, won the Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland, and ran in the Breeders' Cup.

Laragh has shown speed throughout her career and is likely to be near the front in the Starlet. She will be ridden by Edgar Prado, who was aboard for the Jessamine and BC Juvenile Fillies Turf races.

Alpha Kitten will not be far from the front. She has chased fast paces in her first two starts, but is unlikely to try for the lead on Saturday.

"We want to see her from off the pace," Sadler said.

There are two other fillies with Breeders' Cup experience in the Starlet. Dave's Revenge was a troubled fourth in the Juvenile Fillies, finishing three lengths behind division leader Stardom Bound. Black Magic Mama, still a maiden, was eighth in the Juvenile Fillies. She was second in a maiden race here on Nov. 9.

Pamona Ball is a threat from off the pace. Trained by Eoin Harty for Darley Stable, Pamona Ball showed sharp improvement earlier this fall, winning a maiden race at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita on Oct. 10 and the Sharp Cat Stakes at 1 1/16 miles here on Nov. 1. In the latter race, she rallied on the rail on the turn and pulled clear late to win by a length over Toro Bonito, another starter in the Starlet.

"She had to overcome some adversity," Harty said of the Sharp Cat. "At the three-eighths pole, it didn't look like she'd get through. Her last two races have been very encouraging. She's proven herself around two turns, and two turns at Hollywood Park."

Trainer Bob Baffert has two starters - Toro Bonito and Wynning Ride. Both are seeking their first stakes wins.