Not surprisingly, Saturday’s Grade 1 Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos has that distinct Bob Baffert flavor to it. That flavor manifests itself with the Hall of Fame trainer sending out three 2-year-old fillies in what is the final Grade 1 of the year for juvenile fillies.
To illustrate Baffert’s dominance in the Starlet, this is the eighth time the 1 1/16-mile event will be run at Los Alamitos, after 33 years at the late Hollywood Park. Baffert has won the last four, starting with Dream Tree in 2017 and ending (for now) with Varda last year.
This year, Baffert sends out Grace Adler, Eda, and Benedict Canyon in search of Starlet Win No. 5. That’s 3/7th of the field for Los Alamitos’ Saturday headliner in the small Southern California track’s tiny Thoroughbred window.
Given her Grade 1 success, Grace Adler has to be considered first among Baffert’s equals. The daughter of Curlin destroyed seven others by 11 1/4 lengths in the Sept. 5 Del Mar Debutante. That score came on the heels of a maiden-breaking debut on July 31 as the 2/5 favorite.
Can Grace Adler be beat? Absolutely
Yet, Grace Adler isn’t invincible. She showed that with a disappointing fifth as the 9/10 favorite in the Grade 2 Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 1. Her 64 Equibase Speed Figure from that race represented a 29-point drop from the 93 she clocked in her Del Mar Debutante victory.
That brings us to Baffert’s Eda, who comes in riding better form. She also has more wins (three to Grace Adler’s two), winning three of her first five races.
The Munnings progeny finished fifth in that Del Mar Debutante. Since then, Eda rectified that oversight with two consecutive victories in the Black-Type Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita, and the Listed Desi Arnaz at Del Mar. That latter score came as the 1/5 favorite by 4 1/4 lengths. This is her first start beyond seven furlongs.
Benedict Canyon hasn’t taken the long road yet
Benedict Canyon has yet to venture beyond six furlongs in her three races, which include a Sept. 5 maiden score at Del Mar and two thirds. One of those thirds came by 9 1/2 lengths in the Anoakia.
Two non-Bafferts in this eclectic Starlet field warrant attention: Desert Dawn and Tonito’s. Both come with solid placings, but both lack the speed of their Baffert counterparts. Neither has cracked 90 on the Equibase platform.
D’Amato has a Starlet win that somehow escaped Baffert
Trained by Phil D’Amato, who won the 2015 Starlet with Street Fancy, Desert Dawn is the only runner in the field with a two-turn dirt win on the resume. That came on Aug. 26 in a one-mile maiden special weight at Del Mar.
Tonito’s finished second by 2 1/4 lengths to Eda in that Arnaz. Three weeks earlier, she broke her maiden at first asking at Santa Anita.