I Believe In You Upsets Hollywood Starlet

I Believe In You Upsets Hollywood Starlet
Photo: AP Photo/Benoit Photo
I Believe In You, wininng the Hollywood Starlet under Alex Solis.
Hollywood Park press release
I Believe In You, never letting previously unbeaten Jetin Excess out of her sights under a perfect ride by jockey Alex Solis, inched to the lead with a furlong to run and prevailed by a neck in a furious drive to the wire to win Sunday's $351,750 Hollywood Starlet at Hollywood Park.

I Believe In You, who arrived in California from Kentucky three weeks ago, looked right at home while covering the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43 2/5. She had less experience than favorite Cindy's Hero and second-choice Jetin Excess, but she did have a victory at the Starlet distance. She also had the services of Solis, who rode four winners on Sunday's card. The Starlet win was his third in the Grade I event.

"I knew absolutely nothing about her going into the race, except that she could run," Solis said. "She was in a good position all the way around there, and when I asked her, she responded real gamely. The other filly put up a good fight, but mine was better today."

I Believe In You, the third choice in the field of six 2-year-old fillies, rewarded backers with payoffs of $12, $5.80 and $4. Jetin Excess, ridden by Victor Espinoza, paid $3.60 and $2.80. Whoopddoo, another length back under Corey Nakatani, paid $4.40 to show. Cindy's Hero, who never threatened under jockey Gary Stevens, finished fourth.

I Believe In You had only run three times before Sunday, breaking her maiden in her most recent start on Nov. 11 at Churchill Downs. Her connections saw enough to send her west.

"She broke her maiden very impressively at Churchill and we've got Miss Pickums, another filly that had won the Golden Rod at Churchill, so we kind of wanted to keep them separated," trainer Paul McGee said. "It's very convenient for me because Ron Ellis is my brother-in-law and I just sent her out here to run. So Ron gets accolades as well. He's had her for the last three weeks. We're one big, happy family."

Watching Solis win three races prior to the Starlet bolstered McGee's hopes. "Alex is in the zone today, so I didn't have very many instructions for him" McGee said. "Just to get her relaxed early and after that she was all his. Alex is an excellent rider, no question in my mind."

I Believe In You, purchased for $315,00 by owners Jan, Mace and Samantha Siegel, banked $205,050 Sunday to increase her earnings to $243,270.

Jetin Excess, a California-bred filly who went into the race following an impressive win in open company here in last month's Moccasin Stakes, had nothing to be ashamed of while suffering her first loss.

"I wish I had a (distance) race for her before," trainer Pico Perdomo said. "But she showed me she can go that far. She showed me a lot of class. In the end she came back on again. That's something for a filly with no experience going two turns. I knew she would get beat some day. I'm glad she did it this way. I'm very proud."

Espinoza was impressed with her determination through the lane.

"She ran very hard, tried as hard as she can," he said. "It's hard for any horse the first time they go long, not just this one, but especially when you're on the lead, and everybody is coming to pressure her. She got all kinds of experience today. When she was on the lead, she was so calm, so nice, so easy, and she never saw the other horse outside of her. As soon as she got passed, she started to come back again, but it was getting a little bit too late.",P> Stevens was befuddled by Cindy's Hero.

"I just don't know," he said. "She was where I wanted her to be, and it was within striking distance. It felt like I had loads of horse underneath me at the five-sixteenths. I asked her, and nothing happened. She was just not responding at all. It feels like she is in a high gallop, like there is something else left there, but she just won't give it to me. I don't know why."

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