Balance at Focal Point in Well Matched Starlet

Balance at Focal Point in Well Matched Starlet
Photo: Benoit
Balance bounded to a 1 3/4-length win in the Sharp Cat Stakes at Hollywood Park.
A showdown matching the dual stakes winner Balance and dazzling maiden race winner Meetmeinthewoods will be the focal point of Sunday's $447,000 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) at Hollywood Park.

Seven supplementary nominees were among the eleven 2-year-old fillies entered in the the 1 1/16-mile event, with the supplementary fees of $20,000 each boosting the total purse to its highest figure since 1990.

Balance, a Kentucky-bred daughter of 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch, may warrant favoritism off her near-flawless three-race record. Her resume includes a handy victory last month in Hollywood Park's Sharp Cat Stakes, contested at the same distance as the Starlet.

Meetmeinthewoods shows only a maiden sprint victory to date, but the 5 ½-length win in 1:08 3/5 for six furlongs on Nov. 27 was viewed as a remarkable effort in terms of both time and appearance. The California-bred daughter of General Meeting has the pedigree to handle distances.

Trained by David Hofmans for Amerman Racing Stables, Balance would be undefeated in three starts except for a disqualification for stretch interference after crossing the finish line first in the one-mile Hidden Light Stakes Nov. 2 over Santa Anita's grass course.

After bouncing back in the Sharp Cat, Balance has trained well in preparation for the Starlet. "If she runs that race again, it should be enough," remarked Hofmans. Balance was purchased for $260,000 at last year's Keeneland September Sale.

Owned by trainer Doug O'Neill in partnership with J. Paul Reddam, Meetmeinthewoods was a bargain purchase for $30,000 at this year's Barretts May Sale. "From the first time we breezed her, we thought she was something special," O'Neill said. "Wow! She's a runner," he exclaimed following her maiden victory.

Michael Tabor, who raced Thunder Gulch, owns Sabatini in partnership with Mrs. John Magnier. The Five Star Day filly is the field's intriguing stranger. The bay, trained by Patrick Biancone, has raced but once, but it was an impressive one-mile win at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5. She has trained well at Santa Anita since being shipped to California.

The Starlet also attracted Private World and True Xena, who turned in a terrific stretch duel in the seven-furlong Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park Nov. 20. Private World, undefeated in three starts for trainer Bob Hess Jr., won by a nose. Kent Desormeaux returns to ride the daughter of Thunder Gulch.

$447,000 Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 4:05 pm.), 2-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Fall in Love (CA), Tony Farina
2. Diplomat Lady (KY), Tyler Baze
3. Meetmeinthewoods (CA), Corey Nakatani
4. Balance (KY), Victor Espinoza
5. Political Web (KY), David Flores
6. Private World (KY), Kent Desormeaux
7. Sabatini (KY), Garrett Gomez
8. Loosends (KY), Patrick Valenzuela
9. True Xena (FL), Jon Court
10. Incumbent (KY), Javier Santiago
11. Karlee's Kitten (KY), Martin Pedroza
Each filly assigned 120 pounds.

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