Hollywood Starlet Preview
Saturday has been circled on trainer Mike Puype's calendar for months.
When Turbulent Descent made a successful debut in a maiden race at Hollywood Park in October, winning under a hand-ride from jockey David Flores, a start in Saturday's $300,000 Hollywood Starlet became a feasible goal.
Turbulent Descent became the favorite for the Grade 1 Starlet when she followed her maiden race win with a comprehensive victory in the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes over seven furlongs on Nov. 21.
'In my mind, I thought this is where we could be at the end of the year -- in a Grade 1 route race,' Puype said.
So far, sprinting has been easy for Turbulent Descent. Trying the longer distance of 1 1/16 miles in the Hollywood Starlet on Saturday has left Puype anxious to prove what he has thought of Turbulent Descent for months: That she can develop into a division leader -- soon.
The way that Turbulent Descent won the Moccasin -- racing near the front and then pulling away late -- has left the 44-year-old trainer confident that she can make the transition.
'It's how she relaxes and finishes,' Puype said. 'She's shouldn't come up short over a distance. The horses that open up by four lengths and then win one by one length, that's the ones you worry about. I don't have any concerns.'
Turbulent Descent is part of a field of eight in the Starlet, which includes Tell a Kelly, winner of the Grade 1 Darley Debutante at Del Mar in September.
Turbulent Descent will be ridden by Flores, who was aboard for her first two races. By Congrats, Turbulent Descent is one of five fillies in the eight-runner Starlet who were supplemented for $10,000 when entries were taken Wednesday. It will cost the owners of those runners -- including Nina Fever, May Day Rose, Luna Grande, and Tell a Kelly -- another $10,000 to start their fillies.
Tell a Kelly has accomplished the most this year, winning 2 of 5 starts and $221,000. She won the Darley Debutante over seven furlongs in her stakes debut but has lost her last two starts over 1 1/16 miles -- a second as the favorite in the Grade 1 Oak Leaf Stakes here Oct. 3 and a seventh as a 9-2 chance in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5.
Trainer John Sadler said that Tell a Kelly should not be overly criticized for the Breeders' Cup loss.
'I think it would be a big mistake to write her off after that one race,' Sadler said. 'She's come back and trained well.'
Turbulent Descent is likely to stalk Nina Fever, the runner-up in the Glorious Song Stakes over seven furlongs at Woodbine on Nov. 14 in her eighth career start; and May Day Rose, who led throughout the Sharp Cat Stakes over 1 1/16 miles here Nov. 7. Tell a Kelly will be farther back.
Puype would prefer that Turbulent Descent race behind the pace for the first half of the race.
'Nina Fever and May Day Rose will go,' he said. 'Personally, I'd like to see her take back and get a comfortable spot and finish like she can.'
The field also includes True Way of Grace and Big Tiz, who were second and third in the Sharp Cat; Luna Grande, an allowance race winner from Calder; and the Sadler-trained Zazu, who was second to Turbulent Descent in the Moccasin.
Zazu, owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, scored a sharp win in a maiden race over 6 1/2 furlongs in her second start Oct. 15 and is racing over 1 1/16 miles for the first time in the Starlet.
The distance also is new for Nina Fever, a filly by Borrego who is by far the most experienced filly in the field, with five wins. She was eligible to be claimed for $30,000 at Keeneland on Oct. 10, a race she won, and is now starting in a Grade 1.
'She certainly has the experience,' trainer Wesley Ward said. 'Hopefully, the breeding comes out and she can go that far.'
by Steve Andersen
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