CYPRESS, CA – Phoenix Thoroughbred III’s Dream Tree continued her winning ways, taking the lead off of the far turn and breezing home in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos.
Off cleanly from post 3 under Drayden Van Dyke, Dream Tree sat just off of Yesterday’s News and rider Mario Gutierrez through splits of :24.67, :49.25, and 1:13.28. Bidding alongside the leader at the top of the stretch, Dream Tree inched away and won easily under a hold in a final time of 1:43.87 for the 1 1/16-mile dirt event.
“I was just going to play the break because in a small field it can be tricky,” Van Dyke said. “Mario decided to go, so I thought it would be perfect to sit just off him. She ran right through the stretch and I didn’t even have to pull out my stick. It was just a hand ride.’’
Yesterday’s News finished second, 5 1/4 lengths past Piedi Bianchi, who was a nose in front of Exuberance to complete the order of finish. The morning-line favorite, War Heroine, was scratched; the Peter Miller-trained filly was one of many horses stationed at the San Luis Rey training center when catastrophic fires destroyed the facility on Thursday.
The Starlet is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Dream Tree earned 10 points for the win, with Yesterday’s News receiving 4 for second, Piedi Bianchi 2 for third, and Exuberance 1 for fourth.
Dream Tree’s win was her third in as many starts. The Bob Baffert-trained daughter of Uncle Mo has now amassed $270,000 in earnings after being purchased for $750,000 in March. With the victory, Baffert became the first-ever trainer to win both the Starlet and the Grade 1 Futurity (run one race earlier) in the same year.
“The plan was to sit with her today,” Baffert said. “The first race, she had blinkers and she was rank and she won from a little off the pace. (Van Dyke) has been working her. I wasn’t sure about two turns, but after she came back and worked the way she did (after winning the $100,000 Desi Arnaz) is why I changed my mind and decided to run her in this spot.’’
Dream Tree returned $2.80 to win. There was no place or show betting.