Grade I Winners Clash in Starlet
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Country Star is the likely favorite in the Hollywood Starlet.
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Country Star and Set Play, both grade I winners on synthetic surfaces, lead a field of nine 2-year-old fillies entered for the $421,500 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) Dec. 15.

The Stonerside Stable homebred Country Star, trained by Bobby Frankel, is the likely favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Cushion Track test. Though she has only two career starts, Frankel has big plans for Country Star. The daughter of Empire Maker   out of the grade I winner Rings a Chime (by Metfield) hasn't let him down so far. She is coming off a one-length victory in the Alcibiades Stakes (gr. I), rallying from very wide on Keeneland's Polytrack at the Starlet distance.

Country Star is the most accomplished member of Empire Maker’s first crop.

“She looks a little like him,” said Frankel, who is confident the filly will again handle the distance. “Empire Maker is going to throw classic horses. I have three good fillies by him here now.”

Country Star debuted in maiden company with a second-place finish behind Backseat Rhythm on the Belmont Park turf course going 1 1/16 miles Sept. 20. Backseat Rhythm would later run third in the Grey Goose Vodka Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).

The dark bay has been working consistently well on the Cushion Track for Frankel at Hollywood Park for the past month, including a :47 3/5 four-furlong blowout Dec. 10. Rafael Bejarano has been aboard for each of Country Star's races.

Set Play upset the seven-furlong Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) at 14-1 on Polytrack Sept. 3 for trainer Peter Miller and the Gerson Racing team. But the Florida-bred daughter of Van Nistelrooy has lost three in a row since, including an 11th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in her only start on a dirt surface at muddy Monmouth Park. Trying grass for her most recent try, she was out-kicked by the victorious Sea Chanter in Hollywood's one-mile Miesque (gr. IIIT) and finished in a dead heat for third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths.

Regular rider Brice Blanc returns to the irons after missing the Miesque on Set Play, who starts from the far outside post.

Edward Evans' Spritely, undefeated in two starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, drew the rail for her stakes debut and gains the services of leading rider Garrett Gomez. The daughter of Touch Gold--Wood Sprite (by Woodman), a $480,000 yearling purchase at Keeneland, began her career in September with a maiden win at 5 1/2 furlongs at Turfway Park. She returned nearly two months later to capture a seven-furlong allowance heat at Churchill Downs Nov. 9 while leading at every call.

Grace Anatomy, third-place finisher after a slow start in the Alcibiades for trainer Doug O'Neill, had no luck in her follow-up start, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She was floated wide early and was never a factor, finishing seventh.

“She never handled the going at Monmouth,” said O’Neill. “Let’s hope, but the Alcibiades winner looks tough.”

Foxy Danseur comes off a front-running win as the 4-5 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile Sharp Cat, Hollywood's leading Starlet prep race. In her first route try for trainer Christopher Paasch, the Mr. Greeley filly defeated her four rivals by nearly three lengths in a time of 1:43. Along with Set Play, she is the Starlet's most experienced runner with seven lifetime starts.

Trainer Steve Klesaris ships Maryland-based Grace and Power for the Starlet. The More than Ready   miss has made four starts, all on grass, most recently finishing second in the 1 1/16-mile Selima on firm going at Laurel Park. She ran third, two lengths behind the victorious Sea Chanter, in the Epitome Breeders' Cup on the yielding Monmouth Park turf Oct. 26.

The Golden Noodle captured the Landaluce on Hollywood's synthetic surface in June for trainer Jack Van Berg. In her most recent start, she ran third in the Moccasin Nov. 11.

Initiation, a Maryland shipper who finished fourth in the Alcibiades and spent the past month here targeting this race, was not entered. “She was a little colicky on Sunday and we couldn’t breeze her,” explained Alice Clapham, assistant to trainer H. Graham Motion. “She’s seems fine now, but we felt it was better to be safe than sorry.”

$421,500 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I, Race 8, 4:05 p.m.), 2-Year-Old Fillies, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Spritely (KY), Garrett K. Gomez
2. Grace Anatomy (KY), Mike E. Smith
3. Foxy Danseur (KY), Tyler Baze
4. Time Reveals All (KY), Joseph Talamo
5. Sunday Geisha (KY), Corey S. Nakatani
6. Country Star (KY), Rafael Bejarano
7. The Golden Noodle (MT), Julien R. Leparoux
8. Grace and Power (KY), Michael C. Baze
9. Set Play (FL), Brice Blanc
Each assigned 120 pounds.

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