The final 'major' of the season in the 2-year-old filly ranks will be held Saturday at Los Alamitos when the Grade 1 Starlet is renewed. The longtime Hollywood Park fixture has settled in nicely to its second home and provides a Grade 1 test at 1-1/16 miles for a purse of $300,000. Winners of this race at Los Al include the likes of Take Charge Brandi and Abel Tasman, while the vast Hollywood Park history includes greats like Althea, Serena's Song and Blind Luck.
UNCONTROLLABLE is Grade 2-placed, while BLESSED TOUCH is listed stakes-placed. This race looks far more like a proving ground than a lineup of proven goods.
FAIZA and BLESSED TOUCH appear to possess the best natural early speed. DOINITTHEHARDWAY and FAST AND SHINY should be closest in pursuit. The pace doesn't look fast and advantages those near the front.
Trainer Bob Baffert has won the last 5 editions of the Starlet and his 8 career victories in this race match D. Wayne Lukas for the most all-time. Baffert sends out 3 of the 7 entrants Saturday: DOINITTHEHARDWAY, FAIZA and FAST AND SHINY. The handicapping process has to start there. FAIZA clearly comes with the credentials of a $725,000 May purchase at the Timonium sale and dominant debut victory at Del Mar on November 12. DOINITTHEHARDWAY has placed in all 3 maiden starts without a win, but has a two-turn start most recently. FAST AND SHINY has lost 3 straight since a debut win, but has routed twice on turf.
UNCONTROLLABLE is a rare Repole Stable runner based on the west coast with trainer Michael McCarthy. The Cal-bred won her debut at Del Mar before finishing second in the Generous Portion Stakes vs. state-breds and then a big move forward at 24-1 when runner-up in the Grade 1 Chandelier at Santa Anita. Justique, third behind UNCONTROLLABLE in the Chandelier, returned to win the Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar when beating BLESSED TOUCH, who stretches out in the Starlet for red-hot first-crop sire Girvin -- who also is represented here by FAIZA.
The field is rounded out by PRIDE OF THE NILE, who has won 2 straight routes on turf; and CLASSYMADEMOISELLE, whose only victory in 6 starts came via disqualification.
Most Certain Exotics Contender:
UNCONTROLLABLE has 2-turn experience and is working strongly for this. FAIZA may have more upside, but the trust factor for UNCONTROLLABLE is higher with fewer unknowns.
Best Longshot Exotics Contender:
PRIDE OF THE NILE has a couple of wins around 2 turns, and her turf form ought to play well enough here based on pedigree. She should be no better than fourth choice in the wagering.
Sending it in ($100 bankroll):
$100 exacta FAIZA over UNCONTROLLABLE.