Astute gets the nod in Starlet Stakes
A small field of five 2-year-old fillies will contest Saturday’s $300,000 Starlet (G1) at Los Alamitos. The 1 1/16-mile affair features a trio of talented youngsters from the barn of Bob Baffert, but I will look elsewhere for the top selection. The Starlet, the 5TH race, is slated for 5:30 p.m. (ET).
The Richard Mandella-trained #4 Astute has been sharp from a pair of sprint victories to date, led by a dominant showing in the Desi Arnaz S. at Del Mar last time out. Bred in the Bluegrass State, the $425,000 yearling purchase has displayed considerable speed in each of her races, but it was the way she finished last time out that impressed me the most.
Astute appears to be heading for another big effort following a swift half-mile drill at Del Mar in her latest morning move. The daughter of Speightstown draws well outside of the other main pace in the field, and she will be prominent from the outset with Mike Smith returning to the saddle.
Del Mar Debutante (G1) queen #3 Princess Noor is the one to beat. The $1.35 million juvenile purchase was unblemished prior to finishing a decent fifth in the deep Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), and she shows a trio of powerful morning works in the interim as well.
The daughter of Not This Time will race with blinkers off for the initial time on Saturday while keeping regular rider Victor Espinoza in the silks. She will be tough to upend with her best performance.
I believe that we have yet to see the best from Baffert’s #5 Varda, a distant and clear runner-up in the Chandelier (G2) in her second outing. The $700,000 daughter of Distorted Humor has plenty of room for improvement, and I envision her running a big one on Saturday following six solid works in advance of her Grade 1 bow.
- $30 Exacta: 4 with 3 ($30)
- $15 Trifecta: 4 with 3 with 5 ($15)
- $5 Trifecta: 4 with 5 with 3 ($5)