With Edgar Prado at the controls, favored Laragh dictated the pace to score a handy one-length victory Dec. 13 in the $438,500 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) (VIDEO) for 2-year-old fillies.
The gray/roan daughter of Tapit earned her first graded stakes win. She put away her early challengers in upper stretch and held off the relentless Wynning Ride for a measured one-length triumph, completing the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:41.96 over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track. Toro Bonito rallied for third.
John Terranova trains Laragh for IEAH Stables and partners. The victory was Laragh's third in six starts. The third-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies as the favorite in her last start, Laragh also won Keeneland's 1 1/16-mile JP Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes on grass in her debut season.
"I don’t think distance is going to be a problem with her," said Terranova. "She’s a real classy, talented filly and I think over time and natural maturity she’ll be able to relax a little bit. She’s pretty game. She’s a filly who knows where she wants to be in the race and when she feels somebody coming up on her, she’ll jump up on that bridle.
"Right now she’s going to get a nice break, no real plans yet. We’re going to be hopefully pulling for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), which will be our main goal.”
In each of her last five starts during a busy campaign -- she broke her maiden at Woodbine in her second start as part of Mark Casse's stable -- Laragh has controlled the pace. So it was no surprise she went to the front while racing well off the rail.
Laragh was able to milk a :47.02 half-mile with Alpha Kitten pursuing her down the backside when the three outside horses -- Dave's Revenge, Pamona Ball, and Black Magic Mama -- bulled their way to challenge on the front end. The sudden surge from her rivals seemed to bring out something extra in Laragh, Prado said after the race, and she picked up the pace to regain control going into the final turn. Rounding the bend, the outside horses came under pressure and gradually fell back, leaving Alpha Kitten and Mike Smith to push the leader.
Alpha Kitten also ran out of steam in the homestretch as Wynning Ride, with Joe Talamo aboard, gained ground to emerge as the biggest threat. Wynning Ride continued to close in as her Bob Baffert stablemate Toro Bonito rallied from farther back in the final eighth of a mile under David Flores. Prado urged Laragh past the wire comfortably while Wynning Ride finished 2 3/4 lengths in front of Toro Bonito. Alpha Kitten was fourth.
"I was the speed of the race and got to go nice and easy," Prado said. "The first quarter was very comfortable (:23.83) and I guess they didn't want me going any slower than that so they went after me early. My filly got a little strong so instead of fighting her I let her run along. My filly's still in the process of learning. Once she learns to relax without fighting, she's going to be even better."
"I don't know why everyone was moving so early, but I was smiling," beamed Talamo. "I got right down to the rail."
Laragh, named after a town in Ireland by breeder Mike Ryan, earned $263,100 for the victory, increasing her first-year earnings to $509,465. She began her career in Casse's stable this summer and was purchased by IEAH Stables, Gary Tolchin, and Pegasus Holdings after her maiden win Aug. 9. Following a fifth-place finish in the Natalma Stakes (Can-III), her first try on grass, she was transferred to Terranova, who is based in New York.
Laragh, favored at 17-10 in the field of seven, paid $5.40, $3.80, and $3.40. Wynning Ride, a 12-1 shot, returned $8.40 and $4.80. Her stablemate, Toro Bonito, paid $6.20 to show.
Baffert saluted the winner.
"We all wanted to win, but we feel they're improving,” he said of his two entries. “They ran well, but we got beat by a nice filly."
Alpha Kitten was followed by Dave's Revenge, Pamona Ball and Black Magic Mama.
Laragh is out of the El Prado mare Rose of Summer.