George Krikorian's Hollywood Story, who has never won anywhere but at Hollywood Park, notched her second grade I win at the Inglewood track when she held off Healthy Addiction by a half-length in the $300,000 Vanity Invitational Handicap for fillies and mares Sunday.
With just four lifetime wins, the 5-year-old mare went over the $1 million mark in earnings with her Vanity win. John Shirreffs trains Hollywood Story, who was making her 23rd consecutive start in a graded stakes race.
"She won a grade I here in her two-year-old year, so this is great that she's coming back and does it again," Shirreffs said. "She's sure been purely honest, you know? She is a war horse, really. She's there every year and gives it her best. Win or lose, that filly comes out and runs her heart out."
The entire complexion of the race was changed when Star Parade, the 2-1 post-time favorite and definite pace factor, was scratched after kicking in the starting gate for jockey Martin Pedroza and suffering scrapes to her left hock.
"Evidently something disturbed her, and she started kicking," trainer Darrell Vienna told TVG. "She scuffed up her left hock pretty bad.
"That's an aberration," he added. "She's tough to handle, but she doesn't usually do anything like that. I think they did the right thing scratching her."
The tough break for Star Parade made Proposed the heavy 7-5 favorite in a field reduced to six, but nothing went right for the Shirreffs-trained daughter of Benchmark. She broke slowly, then banged with Freakin Streakin on her inside, losing a couple of lengths. Hustled to challenge for the lead by Patrick Valenzuela, she was caught four wide on the clubhouse turn and down the backstretch. She came under pressure on the far turn while still racing wide and was all but finished by the time they reached the stretch. She struggled home in fourth.
Healthy Addiction, ridden aggressively from the rail by Victor Espinoza, led the field all the way to the stretch with Proposed and Sharp Lisa chasing. But Hollywood Story, with David Flores aboard, was winding up a big charge at the leader while three wide on the turn. She grabbed the lead in upper stretch and appeared to be on her way to an easy victory. But Hollywood Story tired in the final furlong and lugged out as Healthy Addiction came on again to make it close at the wire. It was six lengths back to Sharp Lisa and Corey Nakatani in third.
"I was thinking there was going to be good speed in there, so I was going to separate myself from them a little bit," Flores said. "I wasn't quite sure where I was going to be, but still, those guys set a great pace up front. So I was just taking my time the first five-eighths of the race. Then when I swung her outside she just made a great move – I mean, smooth. Oh man she made a great run.
"Then when I got to the top of the lane she started looking around, that kind of got me a little worried because if she gets headed she acts a little different. So I was just trying to be as smooth as I could with her."
The final time for the 1 1/8-mile Vanity was 1:48 2/5. The fractions set by Healthy Addiction were :22 4/5, :45 3/5 and 1:09 4/5.
Hollywood Story, a daughter of Wild Rush, is winless in 16 starts away from Hollywood Park but has now won four of eight at her favorite track with a pair of seconds and one third-place showing while earning $635,055. She won the Starlet (gr. I) at 2.
Sunday's win ended a nine-race losing streak since she won the Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III) in May 2005. She also won the Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) in December 2004. Overall, Hollywood Story sports a 4-6-5 record in 24 outings with earnings of $1,123,105.
Vinery bred Hollywood Story, who is out of the Dynaformer
mare Wife for Life, in Kentucky.
Hollywood Story paid $7.20, $3.40, and $2.80. Healthy Addiction returned $3.60 and $3. Sharp Lisa was $3.60 to show.
After Proposed came Freakin Streakin and Bardy Woman.
Espinoza said he could find no fault with the effort of Healthy Addiction.
"(Hollywood Story), she went all the way to the middle of the racetrack, so my horse, she had nothing to fight," Espinoza said. "If she would have gotten closer to me, I don't think my horse would have let her go by. She's tough like that. But she ran very well, no complaints."