Pamona Ball, trained by Eoin Harty, followed up a maiden win in October by rallying to score a one-length victory over Toro Bonito in the Sharp Cat Stakes here in November. Both were run at the Starlet distance of 1 1/16 miles.
“She didn’t have any trouble negotiating two turns in her last two starts,” Harty said. “It’s just a big jump up in quality. Either she’s good enough or she isn’t.”
The 28th running of the Starlet drew a talented field of seven 2-year-old fillies, which will line up as follows from the rail out:
Toro Bonito, with David Flores up; Laragh, Edgar Prado; Alpha Kitten, Mike Smith; Wynning Ride, Joe Talamo; Dave’s Revenge, Kent Desormeaux; Pamona Ball, Rafael Bejarano, and Black Magic Mama, Corey Nakatani. All carry 120 pounds.
Dave’s Revenge, owned by David Rippey, defeated Pamona Ball while making her career debut at Del Mar on Aug. 31. In just her second start, the daughter of The Cliff’s Edge finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies behind Stardom Bound.
“She was beaten three lengths in the Breeders’ Cup and was an inch away from being Grade I stakes-placed,” trainer Bob Hess Jr. said. “She ran a fantastic race. She’s a very good filly.”
Eastern shipper Laragh broke her maiden on Woodbine’s synthetic surface and won the Jessamine on turf at Keeneland in her fourth start. She then finished third after setting the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita Park. Owned by IEAH Stables and partners and trained by John Terranova, she leads the field with earnings of $246,345.
Toro Bonito, a homebred owned by Patti and Hal Earnhardt III, got away slowly in the Sharp Cat, but closed for second money. The Bob Baffert-trained filly will be joined by stablemate Wynning Ride. The latter, owned by Arnold Zetcher, broke her maiden while making her first start for Ron McAnally and was fourth in the seven-furlong Moccasin while making her second start under the care of Baffert.
Alpha Kitten, a homebred daughter of Tale of the Cat owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, has been impressive in her lone two starts. She broke her maiden in August at Del Mar, and then finished second behind speedy Mi Chiamano Mimi in the six-furlong Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita in mid-October.
Black Magic Mama has yet to break her maiden, but trainer Doug O’Neill thought enough of the daughter of Black Mambo to enter her in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, where she finished eighth.
“She had a troubled trip in the Breeders’ Cup and finished second in a maiden race here after that,” O’Neill said. “She came back quickly in that maiden race and we gave her a good freshening. She’ll be forgotten (in the wagering), but she’s doing well enough to belong in there.”
The Starlet will run as the ninth race on Saturday’s ten-race program at Hollywood Park. First post time is 12:30 p.m.