09/20/2010 3:23PM

Two help 'Weekend of Stars' live up to billing


POMONA, Calif. – It sounded like exaggerated hype when the Los Angeles County Fair dubbed the second weekend of its race meet the “Barretts Weekend of Stars.”

The promotion was intended to highlight former Barretts graduates and showcase current Barretts graduates racing at Fairplex Park in the $91,872 Barretts Debutante for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday, and the $100,495 Barretts Juvenile on Sunday.

True Way of Grace and Clubhouse Ride delivered with impressive victories in the richest races of the meet. It is not a stretch to suggest the filly True Way of Grace and the colt Clubhouse Ride could make noise this fall in graded stakes.

True Way of Grace wore down favored Dearly Concerned on Saturday to post a half-length upset in the Barretts Debutante. Trainer Alexis Barba marveled at the filly’s condition one day later.

“She doesn’t even know she ran,” Barba said. “She ate everything [Saturday night]. That’s the kind of filly she is. I’ve been running her every three weeks, but you know something? She’s not fazed by it.”

The Debutante was the third start for True Way of Grace, a $150,000 purchase by owner Peter Johnson at the Barretts March Sale of 2-year-olds in training. Although she lost her first two starts, her most recent race was a better-than-looked third-place finish Aug. 29.

“I thought she could have won that race,” Barba said, adding “I don’t know why she was the price she was [in the Debutante].” True Way of Grace, 3-1 in the program, returned $14.60 under jockey Paul Atkinson. She won the Debutante in 1:18.92 and earned a Beyer Spoeed Figure of 72.

Although the final time was modest, True Way of Grace overcame adversity. She was forced wide on the first turn, recovered to race in fourth position, took aim on the leader turning for home, and won the 6 1/2-furlong race going away. Longer distance should not be an issue.

Barba will consider the Grade 1, 1 1/16-mile Oak Leaf Stakes on Oct. 3 at Hollywood Park. “It’s only two weeks [between starts], so we’ll see,” she said.

True Way of Grace was sired by Yes It’s True, who was sold at the 1998 Barretts March sale for $800,000 and later won 11 races, including eight stakes and earned more than $1 million from 22 starts for D. Wayne Lukas.

Clubhouse Ride did not break any speed records Sunday when he won the Juvenile by 2 1/4 lengths, but he overcame a tougher trip than the filly one day earlier.

The 8-5 favorite based on a sharp maiden win at Del Mar, Clubhouse Ride was compromised at the start of the Juvenile when the horse outside him broke inward and forced Clubhouse Ride to lose position.

“He didn’t really get wiped out, but he didn’t break as quickly as I thought he would,” jockey Patrick Valenzuela said. “I was relaxed sitting behind the pace, and had a lot of horse underneath me, so I thought I’d make an early move.”

Valenzuela turned Clubhouse Ride loose on the backstretch, and he rocketed from seventh to first. A normal horse might have lost its punch after a slow start and mid-race move, but Clubhouse Ride kept running. He was never threatened, won in 1:20.03, and earned a 62 Beyer Figure.

Craig Lewis, who picked out Clubhouse Ride at the Barretts January Sale and purchased him for $22,000 on behalf of Six-S Racing Stable and Niko Petralia, believes Clubhouse Ride wants to run on.

“He wants to go long, I’m pretty sure of it,” Lewis said.

A son of Candy Ride, Lewis said Clubhouse Ride will be considered for the Grade 1 Norfolk Stakes on Oct. 2 at Hollywood Park. The schedule works against him, however. The Norfolk would mean coming back in less than two weeks. Clubhouse Ride has won 2 of 7, and earned $100,470.