Romance Is Diane  wins the Hollywood Starlet, giving jockey David Flores his fifth victory of the day.

Romance Is Diane wins the Hollywood Starlet, giving jockey David Flores his fifth victory of the day.


Romance Blooms for Flores, Mitchell in Starlet

Romance Is Diane drew away from the field at the head of the stretch and went on to post a major upset in the $459,250 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I), giving jockey David Flores his fifth win Sunday and providing a measure of satisfaction for winning trainer Mike Mitchell.

Mitchell began a 45-day stint running his horses out of the Hollywood Park detention barn on Sunday after one of his runners was determined to have violated allowable levels for total carbon dioxide in a race last month. The California-bred Romance Is Diane was Mitchell's first starter required to be under restricted access for 24 hours prior to her race.

Romance Is Diane, a dark bay daughter of In Excess--Romantic Fibs, by Prized, won her third straight race for owner Senji Nishimura. She faced Cal breds in all three of her previous starts.

Flores tied a Hollywood Park fall meet record with his fifth win Sunday, confidently guiding the 14-1 shot Romance Is Diane to take the lead from Super Freaky coming off the turn. After spurting away to a clear advantage, she won under slight urging by just over a length over Quick Little Miss and the favored Down, who closed from last after failing to break with her field and finished third, a neck behind Quick Little Miss. The final time for the 1 1/16-mile test for juvenile fillies was 1:42 3/5 on the Cushion Track.

Flores, whose last grade I win at Hollywood Park came aboard Siphon in the 1996 Hollywood Gold Cup, was within one win of the track's single-day record for victories.

"I liked my chances today, all the horses I was on looked live," he said. "I am very lucky to be on five winners on a single day."

Chris McCarron, in 1983 and 2001, and Eddie Delahoussaye, in 1992, each won five races on a single card at the Hollywood fall meet.

Romance Is Diane stalked the runaway frontrunner Tizthen (:22 2/5, :45 2/5) in third, just outside of Super Freaky, who took over from Tizthen coming off the backstretch and recorded a six-furlong fraction of 1:10 1/5. Romance Is Diane was ready to pounce as they rounded the turn and quickly kicked away. Quick Little Miss also moved up on the outside for Jon Court but was making little headway until engaged by the Bobby Frankel-trained maiden Down, who was flying down the center of the course for Alex Solis. They battled to the wire from the eighth pole but were too far behind the winner to seriously challenge.

Flores, who had six-win days at Caliente, the Orange County Fair and at Fairplex Park, had never surpassed four winners on a Hollywood Park program.

"That's the position I wanted to be in, second or third going into the first turn," he said. "From there I was just controlling the race and controlling my own horse. She was very professional and when I asked her to go she still had plenty left in the tank. I could hear screaming behind me and I was riding as hard as I could to get clear at the wire."

Romance Is Diane last raced Oct. 28 when she won the 1 1/6-mile California Cup Juvenile Fillies in her stakes debut at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

Romance Is Diane banked $275,550 to raise her earnings to $376,150. She has not lost in three starts since moving to Mitchell's barn after finishing a well-beaten eighth while making her career debut for trainer Doug O'Neill on July 29 at Del Mar.

"She trained really well going into this race," Mitchell said. "When I got her from Doug, really in all fairness, she had just run a five-and-a-half race, which she can't do. So, she's in great shape. I trained her mother (Romantic Fibs). She was a very nice filly.

"Perfect trip," he added. "I just told David she doesn't have to have the lead. She loves to just lay right off it."

The winner paid $31, $12.40 and $7.60 and topped a $196.80 exacta.

Quick Little Miss, who won Hollywood's Moccasin in her last start for trainer Mel Stute, returned $6.80 and $3.80.

"She's been running great," Court said. "Another good race. We just couldn't save any ground coming out of that last turn. We were in a great position early. We'll continue to proceed forward."

The Michael Bello-owned Down, making just her second start after losing her maiden debut at Belmont Park in October by a nose, was $3.80 to show.

"As soon as the gate opened, she kinda spooked and just stood there," Solis said of Down. "She made up all that ground and only got beat a length and one-half in only her second race. Very impressive. It's too bad, but there'll be many other races."

Hucking Hot finished fourth, followed by Mystic Soul, She's Included, High Cholesterol, Mistical Plan, Super Freaky, Runway Rosie, Betrluckythangood and Tizthen.

(Chart, Equibase)