The 2018 edition of the Starlet Stakes on Saturday at Los Alamitos drew a compact but competitive field of six fillies seeking their first Grade 1 victory.
The Starlet if part of the “Road to the Longines Kentucky Oaks” series, and the winner of this race will earn 10 points toward qualifying for the 2019 Kentucky Oaks. Bob Baffert won this race last year with Dream Tree and he’s looking to repeat with Mother Mother or Chasing Yesterday. Michael McCarthy has had a strong year and he’s got a top contender in Vibrance. Let’s analyze the field from top to bottom.
#1 Vibrance debuted at a mile on the turf and ran a respectable fourth. She showed nice improvement breaking her maiden by more than five lengths on the dirt and then finishing a strong second in the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes. She followed that up with a good showing in the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies when staying close throughout and finishing a clear third at odds of 35.40-1. She’s the only filly in this field to have raced this far and she’s competed at this 1 1/16-mile distance twice.
#2 Mother Mother stamped herself as one to watch following her flashy debut win at Del Mar by 6 1/2 lengths. She pressed a fast pace in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and finished second behind the talented Bellafina. She then shipped to Churchill Downs for the Rags to Riches Stakes and won that convincingly while stretching out to a mile for the first time. She might need the lead to be effective, and I’m not sure she’s going to get it here.
#3 Sold It dueled and tired to third in her debut as the betting favorite. She then switched to the turf for her second start and handled it well when winning by a neck when racing 5 furlongs. Her sire was a terrific sprinter with tons of speed, just like her. I just don’t think she wants to go this long but she will definitely be part of the pace scenario.
#4 Oxy Lady is an interesting shipper. She romped in the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes at Aqueduct when winning by five lengths in a respectable time. Her last three races have been at a mile, so it’s safe to say she’s plenty fit for this event. She’s only a head and neck away from having a perfect 4-for-4 record. Her sire won the Preakness but her dam was only a maiden winner in 12 starts with a second-place finish in a Grade 3 sprint. Her trainer, Jack Sisterson, is no stranger to this oval as he was a long-time assistant to Doug O’Neill.
#5 Enaya Alrabb stretched out to a mile and took care of business when breaking her maiden in late October at Santa Anita. She settled behind the speed that day and I expect her to use similar tactics today. Her final time was slower than what I expected, and I think she’s a step below these fillies.
#6 Chasing Yesterday has rattled off back-to-back stakes wins as the heavy betting favorite. She got an absolutely perfect trip last time out, rating behind the two dueling leaders early on and then making her move on the turn to win by 1 ½ lengths. Given her trip and that is was only a three-horse field, I was expecting her to pull away and win with more ease. She appeared to be all out and I’m not sure she’s going to love this distance. She might be talented enough, but I wasn’t impressed with that win.
The pick: #1 Vibrance has enough speed to get a good trip heading into the first turn from her inside post. I think Mother Mother and Sold It are going to set the pace and Vibrance should be sitting in third or fourth early on. Oxy Lady is interesting and could be moving well late for an exacta. I’m not sure Chasing Yesterday will have the same power stretching out, and I think Sold It and Enaya Alrabb are in a tough spot.
Bet on a $20 Budget:
$10 win on #1 Vibrance ($10)
$5 exacta: 1 with 2,4 ($10)