- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
Killer Graces takes out Starlet rivals
Borislow et al's Killer Graces fanned three-wide rounding the turn of Saturday's Grade 1, $402,000 Hollywood Starlet Stakes and rallied in the lane to be a half-length in front of Charm the Maker on the wire of the 8 1/2-furlong affair. Jockey Joe Talamo piloted the Jerry Hollendorfer pupil to finish in 1:44 on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track.
Lady Pecan took the lead entering the first turn of the race, setting splits of :23 2/5, :47 1/5 and 1:12 1/5. Maiden Mi Vida ran behind and to her outside, with Charm the Maker keeping in close attendance down on the inside. Weemissfrankie, who was trying to sweep the California Grade 1 stakes for juvenile fillies, was content to bide her time in last as the 4-5 favorite.
As the field neared the turn, Mi Vida suddenly began loosing ground and Killer Graces, who had been loping along in fourth on the backstretch, moved up to start her run. The chestnut lass found herself three wide rounding the turn, with Charm the Maker to her inside and Lady Pecan maintaining her spot on the rail.
Killer Graces kept motoring to the wire, eventually pulling in front of Charm the Maker, who had 1 1/2 lengths to spare over the game Lady Pecan in third. She paid $30.40, $9.40 and $7.40 as the 14-1 second longest shot on the board.
"We had an absolutely perfect trip. I followed (Charm the Maker) the whole way and just kind of did whatever (her rider Garrett Gomez) did," Talamo said. "(Killer Graces) really likes this track. She's just getting better and better and you can do anything with her. Last time she was in front and really ran a winning race. Today she sat back and I really thought on the turn I was going to win, but I knew Weemissfrankie would be coming. I'm glad she didn't. (Killer Graces is) a really nice filly and I can't wait until she's three."
Weemissfrankie overtook Self Preservation nearing the wire to grab fourth, with Mi Vida following in last by a distant 27 3/4 lengths.
"She was standing so good in the gate, but for some reason she broke really, really bad," explained Rafael Bejarano, who rode Weemissfrankie. "I was surprised because she never did that before. All I could do from there was to try to stay on the rail. She tried to get out really bad on the first turn. It was just too much for her to do."
Killer Graces began her career with Rafael Deleon at Hollywood on May 1, running second by a nose, but reappeared on June 11 to take the Cinderella Stakes under Hollendorfer's tutelage. The juvenile daughter of Congaree captured the Landaluce Stakes next out and ran respectively, though off-the-board, in Del Mar's Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes and Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante.
Hollendorfer saddled Killer Graces in her first conventional dirt appearance at Fonner Park following those two efforts, and his charge responded with a runner-up placing in the Soviet Problem Stakes. This was her second try at the current Hollywood meet, having also run second in the Sharp Cat Stakes on November 13, and the two-year-old lass now boasts an 8-3-3-0 mark. The winner's share from the Starlet shot her earnings to $394,830.
"I think she kind of likes Hollywood Park. She's done very well here," Hollendorfer said. "Now we have to get her to carry it over to another track. She was down on the inside last time (when second in the Sharp Cat) and I don't think that helped her very much. She was in the clear today and I think that might have helped us a little. We had some frustrating times with her at Del Mar.
"Truthfully, I don't have anything in mind for her, we were kind of shooting for this race. I haven't really thought about anything else yet. There will be plenty of races to look at.''
Killer Graces was bred in Kentucky by Brian Kahn and is out of the winning Old Trieste mare Heatherdoesntbluff, making her a half-sister to multiple stakes-placed Rockin Heather. Heatherdoesntbluff is herself a daughter of Grade 3 scorer Michigan Bluff, a half-sister to Grade 3-placed Southern Ridge and a granddaughter of Grade 3 victress Middlefork Rapids. Farther back, one can find multiple Grade 1 king Royal Glint in the immediate family.