- Road to the Kentucky Derby
- Racing & Wagering
- 6 - Executiveprivilege,
- 5 - Midnight Ballet
- 7 - Renee's Titan
- 2 - Miss Empire
- 8 - Rhodium
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Starlet winner is Pure Fun
Magdalena Racing's Pure Fun came widest of all around the final turn in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Hollywood Starlet and flew home down the stretch at Hollywood Park to take the 1 1/16-mile contest by one length under jockey Garrett Gomez. The Ken McPeek-trained chestnut lass was last entering the lane but easily proved best to return $14.40, $6 and $10.60 as the 6-1 third choice in the eight-filly field.
Gomez settled Pure Fun in the back of the pack while Blonde Fog and Rhodium battled it out on the front end through fractions of :23 3/5 and :47 1/5. Rhodium began backing up nearing the turn, but 2-5 favorite Executiveprivilege was waiting to pounce just in behind. Scooting by Rhodium on the inside, the Eclipse Award candidate moved up to briefly challenge her stablemate Blonde Fog before being turned back.
Meanwhile, Pure Fun was still biding her time running well back in last. The juvenile lass suddenly hit the gas nearing the turn and found herself circling the entire field. Gomez kept the pedal down and Pure Fun sailed past Blonde Fog to stop the clock in 1:44 3/5 over the Cushion Track.
"She jumped away well, but I was a little bit concerned because she was not traveling her best around the first turn," Gomez explained. "About halfway down the backside, she started figuring it out and when I wheeled her out she was really accelerating. She took off and was very impressive."
Blonde Fog nearly pulled out the win in her stakes debut to make it two straight following a 12 1/2-length triumph in her maiden debut at Santa Anita on October 28. The bay lass just wasn't able to withstand the late rally from Pure Fun, though, but was best of the rest while two lengths in front of Scarlet Strike in third.
"She ran a big race. Those were some nice fillies she ran against and I think she's going to improve a lot next time," said Martin Garcia, who just missed taking both graded events at Hollywood on Saturday when Blonde Fog ran second.
Executiveprivilege, who up until the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last out was unbeaten with a pair of Grade 1 victories, was fourth under the wire.
"Extremely disappointed," jockey Mike Smith stated after Executiveprivilege's third-placing. "I had a beautiful trip, but she got her head way up and did not menace. I just hope everything is OK with her after the race."
"(Executiveprivilege) didn't punch," trainer Bob Baffert remarked. "The winner ran a good race and my other filly (Blonde Fog) ran a good race.
"On the turn for home I saw (Executiveprivilege) was struggling a little bit. She felt fine for (Smith), but when she turned for home, she put her head up a bit and just had no zip."
Midnight Ballet, Renee's Titan, Miss Empire and Rhodium completed the order under the wire.
Pure Fun shipped into California from Kentucky, where she just captured a one-mile optional claimer at Churchill Downs by 9 1/4 lengths. That was only her second start on a dirt track as the Pure Prize filly had spent her five races prior to that competing on turf. She broke her maiden at Kentucky Downs in mid-September, before finishing seventh, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths, in the Grade 3 Jessamine over Keeneland's grass one month later.
"She was a little bit further back than I thought she was going to be," assistant trainer Matt Shirer admitted about the Starlet.
"(Gomez) said he asked her to go around the three-eighths pole and she gave him a little. Then by about the quarter-pole she really kicked it in. All the sudden she gave a great burst of energy about six or seven wide around all those horses. In (her last race in) Kentucky it was the same kind of thing -- around the quarter-pole she came flying."
Pure Fun definitely took to the synthetic track at Hollywood, and now shows an 8-3-1-1 career line while her lifetime earnings skyrocketed to $343,599.
"She's probably going to stay here for about a week, then she will fly back to Lexington," Shirer added. "She'll go to the farm for a little bit and most likely be pointed toward the (Grade 1 Kentucky) Oaks."
Bred in Kentucky by Royal Oak Farm LLC, Pure Fun was a $5,000 Keeneland November RNA as a weanling before selling for $22,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She is out of the winning Key to the Mint mare Chelsea Green, who also produced dual stakes-placed filly Lady Cheyne.
Chelsea Green is herself out of stakes-placed winner Chelseanna, making her a half-sister to Gorky and Golden Spirit, both stakes-placed, as well as black-type winner Lady Tap, who is the dam of Grade 3-placed stakes victress Lady's Laughter. Chelsea Green is also a half-sister to the dam of Grade 1 diva Chelsey Flower.
Others of note in this female family include dual Canadian champions Scotzanna and Par Excellance.