12/18/2009 12:00AM

Two good alternatives to Starlet favorites


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Beautician finished a close second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and Blind Luck was only a head behind her in third, so they will both attract betting support when they return in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet on Sunday.

While they are both eligible to improve with experience, Beautician appears to have more upside potential in this race as she tries blinkers for the first time, and because she was hindered by losing a shoe during the running of the Juvenile Fillies. Any improvement would make Beautician the filly to beat. But there are other contenders in this field, and they are likely to provide more betting value than Beautician and Blind Luck.

Amen Hallelujah was acquired by IEAH Stables, and moved from trainer Steve Asmussen to Richard Dutrow Jr. prior to the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland. She was stuck out in post 9, and raced at least four paths wide through most of that race. She was in contention all the way and ran very well while finishing third, 2 3/4 lengths behind winner Negligee and 2 1/4 lengths behind second-place finisher She Be Wild, who won the Juvenile Fillies next time out. Amen Hallelujah has been freshened for more than two months since that race, so an improved performance would be no surprise. She also figures to lose less ground racing wide as she moves inside to post 4. The possibility of an upset win, or an exotic placing at overlaid odds must be considered.

Bickersons is an interesting longshot. She finished third in the Grade 1 Spinaway, then was third again in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf. She disappointed when she finished 10th in the Juvenile Fillies two races ago. Here's the angle that makes her worth considering. She ran a much- improved race 16 days later. Bickersons cut back from 1 1/16 miles to seven furlongs and ran a career-best race when she won the Moccasin Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths, with speed in reserve while making her first start at Hollywood. The 88 Beyer Speed Figure she earned in that race would make her a prime contender in the Starlet if she can match it as she returns to 1 1/16 miles. She ran well at this distance when she finished third, 2 3/4 lengths behind Blind Luck in the Oak Leaf, and she was running strongly down the stretch prior to being geared down late in the Moccasin, so I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Horses with early and tactical speed have performed well in two-turn races at Hollywood, so the early speed Bickersons showed in the Moccasin should boost her chances. She rated kindly on and just off the lead while being challenged at two different stages of the race. That trait should boost her chances Sunday as she and the front-running Rose Catherine will have to find ways to avoid dueling each other into submission during the first six furlongs. If Bickersons is truly an improved filly, or if she simply likes Hollywood Park more than she likes other tracks, an upset victory is possible. I will make her my selection.

Blind Luck hasn't run a bad race yet from five career starts, but I'm more inclined to make use of her consistency in the minor exotic slots than I am to take mild odds on her in the top slot.

Rose Catherine is much better on turf than she was on dirt. She can make her presence felt if she is able to transfer her grass form to this synthetic surface. Progeny of Speightstown have had moderate success on synthetic tracks. The move from a mile to 1 1/16 miles might work against her, which is one more reason why she will need to avoid going too fast too soon in this race.

Miss Heather Lee, and It Tiz will have to improve to contend.