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Starlet Stakes Preview: American Gal; Union Strike Look to Rebound From Breeders’ Cup

Starlet Stakes Preview: American Gal; Union Strike Look to Rebound From Breeders’ Cup

The Starlet, whose past winners include Althea, Very Subtle, Goodbye Halo, Sardula, Serena’s Song, Surfside, Blind Luck and Take Charge Brandi, is part of the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks’’ series. The winner Saturday will receive 10 points towards earning a berth in the Kentucky Oaks next May 5 in Louisville.

Baffert, who won the Starlet three times at Hollywood Park, will try for his first win in the race since Streaming prevailed in 2013 when he sends out American Gal and Fact of Life.

Hampered by a slow start and an extremely wide trip, American Gal was still able to run third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Nov. 5, finishing four lengths behind upset winner Champagne Room as the lukewarm 4-1 favorite.

A gray daughter of The Factor and the Tale of the Cat mare Mir Cat, Fact of Life has one win in three starts and earnings of $46,360 for Fog City Stable and Thomas VanMeter II. Purchased for $260,000 at the Keeneland September sale in 2015, Fact of Life broke her maiden at Los Alamitos, winning a 5 ½ furlong race Sept. 8.

A Saturday sweep by Baffert of the CashCall Futurity and Starlet would be historic. No trainer has won both races in the same year.

Union Strike, who is being supplemented to the Starlet for $10,000, will be aiming for her second Grade I win of the year for Ruis Racing LLC. Sixth in the BC Juvenile Fillies in her first start for trainer Craig Dollase, the daughter of Union Rags and the Smart Strike mare Classic Strike posted a 7-1 upset in the Del Mar Debutante Sept. 3 when conditioned by Shelbe Ruis.

Top Choice

#7 American Gal – This filly was coming into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies race as hot as any filly in the country, and was bet down to favoritism of 4-1.  Things could not have gone worse for her in that race as she broke poorly and ran extremely wide the entire race.  There was no chance of her winning the race with that kind of trip, but I was impressed that she continued to battle and finished third in that race.  If she gets a better trip in this spot I think she has the ability to turn this one into a laugher.  Hopefully she can break well and get close or on the lead like she did in her prior two starts.  If so she’ll be very tough.

Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers

#8 Fact of Life – Can be classified as the “other” Baffert entry, but to be fair her last two races have been strong.  Now this daughter of The Factor will stretch out to two turns for the first time, and her early natural speed will most likely place her close to the lead.  The talent looks to be there as long as she can get the distance.  That will be a question mark, but she has Bob Baffert on her side so that gives her a big shot.

#2 Union Strike – It’s definitely hard to get a true read on this ones talent level.  Her debut race was a decent second in a maiden special weight at Del Mar while breaking slowly, but next time out she turned the tables and won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante as a maiden.  Next up was the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and that race left a lot to be desired as she was sixth beaten almost ten lengths.  Maybe the short layoff and tough competition added up to be a disaster…or maybe she’s just hit and miss.  You have to play her today on multi race tickets, but her inconsistency makes it hard for me to play her to win.

#6 Abel Tasman – Winner of two races in a row with her last victory being a half length win over Fact of Life.  I like Fact of Life in this spot so of course I have to like Abel Tasman as well since she beat her in that allowance race last time out.  These connections know how to win together, and if she can run as well going two turns as she did one turn last time out she’ll be right there in the end.

Exotic Plays

#5 Sandy’s Surprise – When you look at her company lines you can see that she has the ability to run with these horses.  On debut she was third in a maiden special weight that featured Union Rags and American Cleopatra.  In her second race she was second and beat Go On Mary, and then last time out she broke her maiden going two turns for the first time.  This race being two turns is a positive for her, but I question if she’s fast enough to win the whole thing.  Looking for her to grab a piece of things.

Party Crashers

#9 Berned – Ships in from New York which is something we don’t see often with two years as far as California racing goes.  Ran a very solid second last time out in the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes after breaking her maiden the race before at Belmont Park in a maiden special weight.  It’s always hard to gauge how the East Coast will match up against the West Coast, but if her price floats up to double digits she might be worth a play.

Throw Outs

#3 Tapped – I hate throwing out a Hollendorfer horse, but I’m skeptical she matches up with the rest of them here.  Two races back she won on debut, but the second place horse in that race might just be an average filly.  Last time she was second in a stakes at Golden Gate.  This one might be a tad too tough for her.

#1 Go On Mary – Broke her maiden last time out against Mopotism, but before that race hadn’t been all that close to winning.  Will have to prove more to me before I back her in a race of this magnitude.

#4 Mopotism – She’s still a maiden, but could still be a dangerous entry here.  Showed nice improvement between her first and second starts.  The breeding is also solid with this filly, but I can’t play a maiden in this type of race.

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