Updated on 09/16/2011 8:52AM

Starrer wins Bayakoa Handicap

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The suspense of whether a less than perfect trip would prevent Starrer from defending her title in Sunday's $150,000 at Hollywood Park was only a brief concern for her many backers.

After being stuck behind a wall of fillies and mares on the final turn, Starrer rallied along the inside in early stretch and pulled clear to win her first stakes since the 2001 Bayakoa.

The win came in Starrer's sixth start of 2002. She finished behind Azeri and Summer Colony in five stakes between June and October.

Without meeting that sort of competition, Starrer was the focus of the Bayakoa. She was sent off as the 118-pound highweight and was the even-money favorite. Ridden by Patrick Valenzuela, Starrer ($4) finished 1 1-16 miles in a quick 1:41.74.

Cee's Elegance, who won the Cat's Cradle Handicap for state-breds on Nov. 24, finished second, a length in front of Angel Gift in the field of six.

Starrer was fourth for the first half-mile. She was racing off the rail with three furlongs remaining when Valenzuela was forced to wait for room behind a wall of four.

Valenzuela guided Starrer along the rail in early stretch, quickly found room, and urged Starrer to a five-length win.

"If a jockey is patient good things happen later without forcing the issue on the turn," trainer John Sherriffs said. "This is what we expected. She was more into it. They didn't get away from her like they did in some of her other races."

Owned by George Krikorian, Starrer has won 4 of 18 starts and $743,033. She will remain in training as a 5-year-old in 2003.