Los Al’s Starlet, Futurity Provide Last Hurrah For Southern California Juveniles
Baffert Seeks To Extend Domination In Both Races
By Margaret Ransom
With Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) and likely champion British Idiom tucked away for the rest of 2019, a handful of races remain to be claimed in the division, including Saturday’s $300,000 Starlet Stakes (GI) at Los Alamitos. Both Donna Veloce and Bast, who were second and third in the world championships five weeks ago, will be in the gate for the 1 1/16-mile test and will be challenged by three others, including a fellow Breeders’ Cup rival who didn’t fare so well and one facing winners for the first time.
The Starlet was first run in 1979 across town at Hollywood Park and was moved to its current track after the Inglewood facility was closed and demolished to make way for the SoFi Stadium, which has been under construction since and is set to open in July of next year. Some of the legendry names listed in the American Racing Manual as previous winners of the Starlet reads like a “who’s who” of West Coast-based juvenile fillies and includes names like Althea, Outstandingly, Very Subtle, Goodbye Halo, Serena’s Song, Cara Rafaela, Sharp Cat, Surfside, Blind Luck, Take Charge Brand, Abel Tasman, Dream Tree and Chasing Yesterday.
Hall of Famer Bob Baffert has tightened the girth on five previous Starlet winners overall and has swept both the Starlet and the Los Al Futurity, which are now traditionally offered on the same day, for the past two years in a row. He will attempt to do it again this year as he has two exceptionally talented runners in the Futurity.
This year’s Starlet, like last year, offers points to make the gate for the Kentucky Oaks on a 10-4-2-1 schedule to the top four finishers, so only one runner will emerge without points from this race.
Five For Starlet
Shah, Magnier, Tabor and Smith’s Donna Veloce was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up in what was her second start. The $800,000 daughter of Uncle Mo broke her maiden at first asking in such impressive fashion by 9 ¼ lengths that she was the favorite for the world championships. She was taken back off the pace for the first time in that race and made every attempt to pass the winner, never giving up and showing determination before falling short. Any repeat of that effort puts this Simon Callaghan-trained filly squarely in the winner’s circle under Flavien Prat.
Dual grade 1 winner Bast is back off her third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup and has trained exceptionally well at her Santa Anita base since. The Baoma Corp. colorbearer, who was a $500,000 Fasig-Tipton select yearling 17 months ago, won both of the regular Southern California grade 1s on the calendar for 2-year-old fillies (Del Mar Debutante, Chandelier Stakes) so if she win this event it will complete the sweep of the major events for the division in the Golden State. Drayden Van Dyke will be back aboard the Uncle Mo filly, who has some tactical abilty to set the pace or race, after a two-race absence.
Baffert also sends out Gingham, who finished second three straight times before finally breaking her maiden last out. The Quality Road filly, who was a $420,000 yearling, will likely get the pace she likes to run at and her best may earn her a top three finish.
K P Dreamin completely blew the break in the Breeders’ Cup and was never a factor to finish in front of just one and even though a win wasn’t likely that day, she did have an excuse and figures to finish better here. The daughter of Union Rags had a tremendous workout on Monday for trainer Jeff Mullins and figures to finish better here with a clean trip. Roadrunner’s Honor broke her maiden at Santa Anita for trainer Doug O’Neill two months ago then came back six days ago to finish a flat fourth out of six in the Dezi Arnaz Stakes a Del Mar.
Post time for the Starlet, which is the seventh on the day, is 3:28 p.m. PT. Rain is likely in the area, so a wet track is more than likely, too.
Just Four For Futurity
Baffert has won a whopping 11 Futurities and every one of the last five since the race was moved from Hollywood Park in 2014, and his winner’s list alone represents some of the most prominent juveniles in recent memory in Southern California, including Real Quiet, Captain Steve, Point Given, Pioneerof the Nile, Lookin at Lucky and McKinzie.
Some of the other standout winners of the race not trained by the Hall of Famer include Snow Chief, Best Pal, A.P. Indy, Declan’s Moon, and Shared Belief. This year, though, he sends out the promising duo of High Velocity and Thousand Words, who have yet to win a stakes though it’s widely believed it’s just a matter of time for both.
The winner of this race, which despite its record of winners was downgraded to a grade 2 this year, picks up 10 points to make the gate for the Kentucky Derby via the Road to the Kentucky Derby series. Second through fourth can also pick up points via a 4-2-1 award system, too.
Gary and Mary undefeated West’s High Velocity won the Bob Hope Stakes (GIII) at Del Mar in his last start three weeks ago after breaking his maiden first out fairly easily nearly two months ago. The $350,000 Quality Road colt makes his two-turn debut, but his pedigree suggest he’ll have little trouble routing. Drayden Van Dyke is back in the irons, who will most likely send tp get frontrunning position from the outside post.
The partnership of Albaugh Family Stable and Spendthrift Farm paid $1 million for Thousand Words at Keeneland 15 months ago and while the son of 2008 Futurity winner Pioneerof the Nile has a long way to make up his purchase price, he showed a ton of potential in his lone start where he broke his maiden by a half-length at 6 ½ furlongs under Flavien Prat from off the pace. He should love this first route as he’s certainly bred for it and he has been working regularly and impressively since that race six weeks ago.
Anneau d’Or, a $480,000 son of Medaglia d’Oro, broke his maiden by eight lengths over Golden Gate Fields’ turf course in September by eight lengths and was a near 30-1 outsider in the Breeders’ Cup for trainer Blaine Wright because of it. He proved much better than his odds and managed a game second, beaten just a head by Storm the Court and is back here looking for a first career stakes win. He’s been back at home working well over Golden Gate’s all-weather, which he did before the Breeders’ Cup, and a repeat of that last effort makes him strong for an upset. Juan Hernandez will be back aboard.
Wrecking Crew, who was second in this summer’s Best Pal Stakes (GIII) and Del Mar Futurity (GI), was a game third, beaten 3 ¼ lengths in the Breeders’ Cup for Peter Miller last out. The Rockingham Ranch and David Bernsen-owned son of Sky Kingdom, who they plunked down a whopping $850,000 for at Fasig-Tipton Florida back in March, has come close in his last three, but hasn’tmanaged to connect for a stakes win. Abel Cedillo, who just won the Del Mar riding title, returns.
Post time for the Futurity, which is the afternoon’s third, is 1:58 p.m. PT.