Trainer Doug O'Neill hopes to cap his second Hollywood Park autumn meet championship Sunday with a victory by Sharp Lisa in the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) for 2-year-old fillies.
"That would be the icing on the cake!" said O'Neill enthusiastically Thursday during a typically busy morning at his barn. "She's ready to rock and roll."
O'Neill led the trainer standings with 14 winners, three more than runner-up Bob Baffert, heading into the final five days of the meet. O'Neill set the pace here two years ago and also led the spring/summer Meet in 2003.
Sharp Lisa should earn ample support in the Starlet after finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) in her last start on Oct. 30 at Lone Star Park, beaten by 7 1/4 lengths despite being four and five wide much of the way. O'Neill was unable to travel to Texas because of the birth of his second child.
"She's not a real big filly, but she's very confident and aggressive," O'Neill said of Sharp Lisa. "She's had a lot of things thrown at her at a young age and thrived on them. This was a race we targeted when we bought her."
A Kentucky-bred daughter of Dixieland Band
, Sharp Lisa was purchased privately after breaking her maiden by 6 1/2 lengths in her debut at Calder on Sept. 12. She returned to finish a close second in the Alcibiades Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland under Corey Nakatani, who will be reunited with her in the Starlet.
A trio of Southern Californians – J. Paul Reddam, Pablo Suarez and Mark Schlessinger – own Sharp Lisa. Reddam won the Starlet two years ago with Elloluv.
A field of five to eight is shaping up in the 1 1/16-mile test. Definite are Sharp Lisa (Nakatani), Splendid Blended (Kent Desormeaux), No Bull Baby (Rene Douglas), Charming Colleen (Garrett Gomez) and Northern Mischief (Gary Stevens). Under strong consideration are Memorette (Tyler Baze), Revealed (Jon Court) and Kenza.