Saturday’s $300,000 Starlet S. (G1) began life as the Hollywood Starlet in 1981 and was run at Hollywood Park through 2013. That track was finally forced to close its doors, and the newly dubbed “Starlet” was moved to Los Alamitos for the first time in 2014.
During its tenure at Hollywood Park, the Starlet produced such notable winners as 1983 champion two-year-old filly Althea; Outstandingly, the 1984 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) scorer and champion two-year-old filly; 1995 champion three-year-old filly Serena’s Song, who defeated the boys in both the Haskell Invitational H. (G1) and Jim Beam S. (G2); and 2000 champion three-year-old filly Surfside, who beat males in the Clark H. (G2).
On three different occasions, the Starlet winner would go on to win the next year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1), including 1988 victress Goodbye Halo and 1994 heroine Sardula.
The last Starlet/Kentucky Oaks winner was Blind Luck, who would earn an Eclipse Award as the 2010 champion three-year-old filly.
All of those reasons, and probably a lot more, are why the Starlet is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of races that awards points toward a starting berth to the “Run for the Lilies.” The Starlet winner will receive 10 points, second gets four, third is granted two and fourth-place takes home one point.
This year’s Starlet drew a field of nine going 1 1/16 miles over Los Alamitos’ main track, and there is no chance of this edition producing a champion two-year-old filly. That honor has already been taken by undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) scorer Songbird, who is merely awaiting the Eclipse Award ceremony to make it official.
Instead, the 2015 Starlet is comprised of up-and-comers seeking to test their mettle. In fact, only one in the field – Pretty N Cool – has previously succeeded at the graded level, and there are even some turf runners in the group.
Pretty N Cool captured both the Sorrento S. (G2) and Matron S. (G2), the first at Del Mar in August and the second cross-country at Belmont Park on October 18. Sandwiched between those was a second in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) to the aforementioned Songbird, and Pretty N Cool most recently finished fifth in the Desi Arnaz S. back at Del Mar.
In front of her that day were Treasuring, who just missed by a half-length while making her stakes bow in the Desi Arnaz off a 7 1/4-length maiden victory; Street Fancy, third while also trying stakes rivals for the first time off a half-length maiden score; and stakes winner Surfside Tiara.
Both Treasuring and Surfside Tiara have a bit more experience than Street Fancy. Surfside Tiara broke her maiden second out, was no factor in the Del Mar Debutante, but then took the Anoakia S. by a half-length prior to the Desi Arnaz. It took the Bob Baffert-trained Treasuring three tries to get her initial win, which also came right before the Desi Arnaz.
Treasuring is one of only three runners in this field with experience at a longer distance, if one mile can be considered a longer distance. The other two with prior racing acumen at a mile are Stays in Vegas and Sutton’s Smile.
Stays in Vegas could go off favored on Saturday following a pair of easy eight-furlong grass wins in the Surfer Girl S. and Pike Place Dancer S. at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields, respectively. Before those two, Stays in Vegas was fifth in the Del Mar Debutante in her first loss after taking both the Juan Gonzalez Memorial S. and Wine County Debutante S. on the main tracks at Pleasanton and Santa Rosa, respectively.
Sutton’s Smile could get some action from those hoping the gray lass will transfer her turf form to the dirt. The Philip D’Amato pupil was well-beaten in her debut on the main track and transferred to the grass for her subsequent four races. She broke her maiden by 6 1/4 lengths over the good going at Santa Anita Park on October 17 and returned in late November to be third in the Jimmy Durante S. (G3), both at a mile.
Pacific Heat is another worth considering after going two-for-two in romping fashion. The Peter Eurton trainee broke her maiden at Los Alamitos by 13 lengths and added the Golden State Juvenile Fillies S. to her resume last out at Del Mar by 5 1/4 lengths. The biggest question mark with the bay lass is whether she can carry that form to 1 1/16 miles.
The final two entrants in the Starlet are Patriotic Diamond, winner of the state-bred Generous Portion S. and third in the Golden State Juvenile Fillies S., and Mama’s Sugar, a 6 1/4-length maiden debut winner at Del Mar on November 27.