Killer Graces ($30.40) Surprises In Hollywood Starlet

Racing News
Posted 12.10.11 at 4:40

Killer Graces and jockey Joe Talamo win the Hollywood Starlet. © Benoit Photo

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (December 10, 2011)—Killer Graces turned the tables on Charm the Maker and made some history with a 14-1 upset in the $402,000 Hollywood Starlet Saturday at Hollywood Park.

Defeated by 1 ½ lengths when second behind Charm the Maker in the Sharp Cat Stakes Nov. 13, Killer Graces won the more significant prize, rallying on the outside to take the Grade I Starlet by a half-length.

In the process, the 2-year-old daughter of Congaree and the Old Trieste mare Heatherdoesntbluff became only the second filly to win both the Landaluce and the Starlet. Killer Graces joined Serena’s Song, who completed the sweep in 1994.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, Killer Graces, who is now 3-for-5 over Cushion Track, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.09. The win was the second in three years in the Starlet for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who scored with Blind Luck in 2009.

Purchased privately after she finished second – beaten by a nose – in her May 1 debut, Killer Graces has subsequently won three of seven for a partnership that includes Hollendorfer, Dan Borislow, Gillian Campbell and Steve Melen. She’s earned $394,840 in eight career outings. All but $10,000 has come for her current connections.

No worse than second in five starts at Hollywood Park, Killer Graces paid $30.40, $9.40 and $7.40.

Charm the Maker, the 17-10 second choice in the field of six, paid $3.60 to place and show. Seeking her third win in four starts for Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally, Charm the Maker sat just off pacesetter – and eventual third-place finisher – Lady Pecan for most of the trip, but couldn’t quite match the winner in the final eighth of a mile.

Lady Pecan, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s representative as he sought a third Starlet victory, finished 1 ½ lengths behind Charm the Maker. Her show payoff was $6.

The disappointment in the race was 9-10 favorite Weemissfrankie. Looking for her third Grade I of the year and a sweep of the three major races in Southern California for 2-year-old fillies, she was last early after a stumbling start. The Del Mar Debutante and Oak Leaf heroine did make progress in the stretch, but was much too late. The daughter of Sunriver wound up fourth, three-quarters of a length back of Lady Pecan and 2 ¾ lengths behind Killer Graces.

Self Preservation, who finished directly behind Weemissfrankie when fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs, was fifth and Mi Vida, a maiden and the longest shot in the cast at 44-1, was eased in the final quarter of a mile.

“We had an absolutely perfect trip,’’ said Talamo after his first Starlet win. “I followed (Charm the Maker) the whole way and just kind of did whatever (Charm the Maker’s jockey Garrett Gomez) did. She really likes this track. Her only bad races were at Del Mar.

“She’s just getting better and better and you can do anything with her. She’s a really nice filly and I can’t wait until she’s three.’’

Rafael Bejarano, who had won two of the previous four Starlets, bemoaned the break with Weemissfrankie.

“She was standing so good in the gate, but for some reason she broke really, really bad,’’ said Bejarano. “I was surprised because she never did that before. All I could do from there was try to stay on the rail. She tried to get out really bad on the first turn. It was just too much for her to do. She finished up really well.’’

Bejarano did win twice Saturday, reducing Joel Rosario’s lead to one (26-25) in the rider’s race. Martin Garcia is next with 22 wins with six days left in the Autumn meet.

Racing resumes Sunday. Post time is 12:30 p.m.

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