It’s much easier to deal with the rigors of sports and competition when all is good, but a true competitor or athlete shows the ability to rebound after defeat. The Bob Baffert trained filly Executiveprivilege will take to the track in unfamiliar territory on Saturday, December 8th in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes as it will be the first time she goes into a race off a loss.
She won her first five career races including the Chandelier Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita, Del Mar Debutante Stakes (G1) at Del Mar and Sorrento Stakes (G3) at BetFair Hollywood Park. Her loss came to Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 2nd at Santa Anita. Beholder went gate to wire and won by a length.
In the Starlet, the potential two year old female champion will face a stiff challenge from seven other fillies. Baffert continues to use Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith after the poor ride on Game on Dude in the Breeders Cup Classic by Rafael Bejarano. It will be the first time for Smith on Executiveprivilege. In his first big start in relief of Bejarano, Smith rode Game on Dude to victory in the Native Diver Stakes (G3) last weekend. The connections are hoping for the same result.
1. Pure Fun (KY)- Jockey Garrett Gomez – Kenneth McPeek
This filly will make her 8th start with just two wins to show for her efforts. It took her four tries to break her maiden. The Pure Prize daughter finished 7th in the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (G3) at Keeneland, then 2nd beaten 1/2 length in an Allowance non winners of two lifetime. She does come off her most impressive race to date at Churchill Downs on November 24. She rallied from off the pace to win by a commanding 9 3/4 lengths in a non-winners of two lifetime Allowance Optional Claiming $75,000. The trip out West is interesting considering the number of starts already and the mileage for wear and tear.
2. Miss Empire (KY) – Jockey Keven Krigger – Trainer Peter Miller
This filly will be starting in her 9th career start and has been beaten three times by favorite Executiveprivilege. Nothing in her last few starts show she will be able to do so this time around. After winning the Cinderella Stakes at BetFair Hollywood Park on June 16, she finished 3rd to Executiveprivilege in the Landaluce Stakes. Her 3rd place finish against the boys in the Best Pal Stakes (G2) at Del Mar showed enough promise that she could compete at the highest level against colts and fillies. She has performed well, but not well enough to beat the top horses in the division. A 4th and 3rd respectively in the Del Mar Debutante Stakes and Chandelier Stakes showed just that. She finally won a race other than her maiden when she shipped to Golden Gate Fields and won the Pike Place Dancer Stakes going a mile on the turf. Was turf what this filly needed? Not sure after her 9th and last place finish in the Miesque Stakes (G3) at Hollywood.
3. Scarlet Strike (KY) – Jockey Joe Talamo – Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer
The Smart Strike filly looked as if she was turning the corner after breaking her maiden after three tries and finishing 2nd in the Chandelier Stakes. She took a step backwards after posting a 3rd place performance in the Sharp Cat Stakes at Hollywood Park as the 4/5 favorite. She does have consistency on her side as she has yet to finish worse than 3rd in five races. The lone maiden win is accompanied by a pair of 2nd and 3rd place results.
4. Blonde Fog (KY) – Jockey Martin Garcia – Trainer Bob Baffert
The other Baffert trained filly comes into this race off the one maiden race in which she won by a commanding 12 1/2 lengths. She took the early lead, extended it down the back stretch and pulled away down the stretch to finish the 1 1/16 miles in a final time of 1:44.25. Her morning works has been fantastic and I fully expect to see her contend with her stable mate. She will most likely have to fend off the late challenge as this one will be on the front end and Executiveprivilege will be sitting just off the pace.
5. Midnight Ballet (KY) – Julien Leparoux – Thomas Proctor
She won her debut at Del Mar in August going six furlongs on the all weather surface. Was not a factor in an Allowance on dirt at Santa Anita in October, but returned to win the Sharp Cat Stakes on all weather at Hollywood Park going 1 1/16 miles. The additional distance certainly helped her cause as she came from well behind to win by 3/4 length. If the pace is hot in this race, look for this Midnight Lute filly to be charging hard late. She is 2 for 2 on all weather. That bodes well for her chances as well.
6. Executiveprivilege (KY) – Jockey Mike Smith – Trainer Bob Baffert
Not much else to say about this filly except that she is one length from being a perfect 6 for 6. The daughter of First Samurai like we mentioned earlier is a three-time graded stakes winner. If she wins this weekend, she is the odds-on favorite to be crowned two year old female champion.
7. Renee’s Titan (KY) – Jockey Tyler Baze – Doug O’Neill
She cruised to victory first out in a maiden claiming $50,000 back in June. She hasn’t been able to return to the winner’s circle in her next four races. She finished 4th against similar foes in the Sorrento Stakes, 6th in the Del Mar Debutante Stakes, then a pair of runner-up efforts in the Phil D. Shepherd Stakes at Fairplex and Sharp Cat Stakes. Is she a contender to win this race? I don’t believe so, but she is a play underneath in exotic wagers.
8. Rhodium (KY) – Jockey Rafael Bejarano – Trainer Peter Miller
The 2nd of two Miller trained fillies in this race gets the “benched” leading rider in Rafael Bejarano. Will that be enough? I don’t believe so, but it does help. She was unsuccessful in her first three maiden starts and one was a top three finish. That came in a maiden claiming $80,000 at Del Mar in August. The other two were 5th and 6th in maiden special weight. She finished 4th in the Phil D. Shepherd Stakes then finally broke her maiden in a special weight race at Santa Anita. Did she like the dirt? Her return to cushion resulted in a 4th place result in the Sharp Cat. She led the entire race until the latter stages. She faded and lost by 4 1/4 length.
ANALYSIS – PICKS
This won’t be easy for the three-time graded stakes winner, but she is the horse to beat based on experience ad past performances. This race comes down to three fillies. I expect Blonde Fog to get the lead and be able to hang around long enough to compete with the late runs of Executiveprivilege and Midnight Ballet. Look to Renee’s Titan, Miss Empire or Scarlet Strike for the underneath exotic plays.
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