Blind Luck Bursts to Starlet Romp
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Blind Luck raced at the rear of the seven-horse field toward the inside before putting together a tremendous burst after angling out for the drive. She blew past the leader, Amen Hallelujah, who had taken the lead from the tiring pacesetter Rose Catherine, and drew off from mid-stretch to win by seven lengths. The final time in the 1 1/16-mile test for 2-year-old fillies was a sharp 1:41.96 on Cushion Track.
"Wow!," exclaimed Bejarano in the winner's circle. "I worked her the last four times and she has been unbelievable in the morning. She has been relaxing so well in her works and has been showing a big turn of foot. She did the same thing today."
Blind Luck, coming off a troubled third-place finish to She Be Wild in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) across town at Santa Anita Park in November, earned her second grade I victory of the season. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Pollard's Vision captured Oak Tree's Oak Leaf (gr. I) at Santa Anita prior to the Breeders' Cup.
Co-owner Jerry Hollendorfer trains Blind Luck. Hollendorfer purchased the chestnut filly privately after she broke her maiden in her debut at Calder Casino & Race Course by 13 1/4 lengths in June. She is also owned in partnership by Mark DeDomenico and John Carver.
"That was exciting," Hollendorfer said. "I've never seen her move like that."
The victory puts Blind Luck in the equation for end-of-the-year honors as the nation's top juvenile filly, along with She Be Wild and Hot Dixie Chick.
"I think this stamps her up there pretty good as one of the contenders," said Hollendorfer, who credited Bejarano for working Blind Luck and "knowing her well."
The Todd Pletcher-trained Rose Catherine, coming off a runner-up finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, went to the lead early in the Starlet, tracked by Bickersons, Amen Hallelujah, and Miss Heather Lee. She opened up a one-length edge while posting quick quarter-mile splits of :23.26, :46.63, and 1:10.83. But she was all in by the time she reached the upper stretch and Amen Hallelujah assumed a short-lived advantage.
Blind Luck, at the back of the closely-packed group, needed racing room while on the inside of It Tiz. Bejarano was able to manuever her toward the outside approaching the quarter pole, and she was four-wide at the head of the lane but charging.
Blind Luck took the lead approaching mid-stretch and was in command at the eighth pole, widening her advantage from there in an eye-catching performance.
"I had so much horse I wanted to wait as long as I could," Bejarano said. "When I asked her a little she showed me a big turn of foot."
Miss Heather Lee, always in contention for Victor Espinoza, finished best of the rest for second, three-quarters of a length ahead of Amen Hallelujah and Alex Solis. It was four lengths to It Tiz, followed by Bickersons, Rose Catherine, and Beautician.
Beautician, runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies by a head over Blind Luck, was beaten more than 43 lengths after dropping back on the final turn. She was eased in the stretch by Garrett Gomez.
"She wasn't very happy today," said Gomez, who rode Beautician for the first time in the Starlet. "I didn't know her very well, but she was just weak turning for home. I moved on her a couple of times but she just staggered. I just took care of her after that."
The victory was worth $243,150 to Blind Luck's connections and boosted the filly's earnings to $709,050. She won four of six starts in 2009, with one second and one third. Out of the Best of Luck mare Lucky One, Blind Luck was bred by Fairlawn Farm and originally sold for $11,000 as a yearling at Fasig-Tipton's Kentucky sale in July 2008.
Sent off as the second choice, Blind Luck paid $5.60, $3.20 and $2.60. Miss Heather Lee returned $11.20 and $6.40, while the show payoff on Amen Hallelujah was $5.40.
Hollendorfer said Blind Luck would return to action at Santa Anita, probably in the Las Virgenes (gr. I). "Our long range goal is the Kentucky Oaks," he said.
John Sadler, with 15 winners, edged Bob Baffert for the Hollywood fall training title by one, 15-14. Baffert won five races on the closing weekend.
Joel Rosario, with 37 wins, was the winner of the jockeys' race. Joe Talamo, with four winners on the final day, edged Bejarano for second with 31 victories. After a brief recess, racing in Southern California resumes at Santa Anita Dec. 26.
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