12/08/2010 3:55PM

True Way of Grace adds blinkers for Hollywood Starlet


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – True Way of Grace won the Barretts Debutante at Fairplex Park in September, but her education is progressing slowly, trainer Alexis Barba insists.

After losing two stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park in the last two months, True Way of Grace starts over that distance for the third time in Saturday’s $300,000 Hollywood Starlet for 2-year-old fillies. This time, she will wear blinkers, which Barba hopes will help the filly improve on a second-place finish in the Sharp Cat Stakes on Nov. 7, her most recent start.

In the Sharp Cat, True Way of Grace was last of six on the backstretch, trailing eventual winner and pacesetter May Day Rose by as many as 18 lengths, before losing by 4 1/4 lengths.

“She showed me she can lose a lot of ground and still come on get something,” Barba said. “You don’t know what their styles are yet, though.”

Owned by Peter and Ellen Johnson, True Way of Grace has won 1 of 5 starts. In her graded stakes debut, she was fifth in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes here over 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 3.

Barba said True Way of Grace could have run better in the Oak Leaf if she had been more focused. She dropped out of contention early and was beaten 11 lengths by Rigoletta.

“Her ears are like this,” Barba said as she flicked her first two fingers back and forth. “She’s a big kind of galoof filly. She doesn’t know what to do yet.”

The likelihood of a decent pace in the Starlet, could help True Way of Grace’s chances. The expected field of eight is led by Tell a Kelly, the winner of the Grade 1 Darley Debutante at Del Mar and Turbulent Descent, who is unbeaten in two starts and making her debut around two turns on Saturday.

The race features one shipper in the Wesley Ward-trained Nina Fever, a quick filly who was second in the seven-furlong Glorious Song Stakes at Woodbine on Nov. 14.