Starrer Should Find Bayakoa Foes Softer

(From track report)
Starrer, winless in five races since her victory in last year's Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park, will try to repeat in Sunday's 21st running of the $150,000 stakes race for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.

This time, owner George Krikorian's 4-year-old daughter of Dynaformer will race for a new trainer, having been shifted from the barn of David Hofmans to John Shirreffs during a six-month layoff following her 2001 Bayakoa triumph.

Although winless under Shirreffs' care, Starrer has performed creditably against the country's top fillies and mares. On three occasions including a fourth-place finish most recently in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) on Oct. 26, she chased leading Horse of the Year candidate Azeri. She was second to Azeri in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita on Oct. 2. On two other occasions, she chased multiple stakes-winner Summer Colony.

Starrer, with Patrick Valenzuela in the saddle, will carry high weight of 118 pounds when facing six rivals. With a win, she would the only filly or mare other than Manistique in 1999 to be a two-time winner of the Bayakoa. Shirreffs trained Manistique.

Starrer's 118-pound impost is the same as she carried in last year's Bayakoa when Jerry Bailey rode her to a one-length victory over Queenie Bell. The bay filly has earned $653,033 from an overall record of 3-5-3 in 17 starts.

Angel Gift, at 115 pounds, will be getting a three-pound weight break from the likely favorite after finishing fourth, one length behind Starrer, in the Lady's Secret.

Trained by Paddy Gallagher for Richard Strauss and Ward Williford, Angel Gift has posted a 4-4-2 record in 16 races for earnings of $261,880.

The daughter of Allen's Prospect seeks her first graded stakes win in the Bayakoa after securing her first added-money victory in her last start in the Golden Poppy Handicap at Bay Meadows Oct. 27. Angel Gift worked a bullet half mile on the turf in :47.60 Thursday for trainer Paddy Gallagher.

"She's improved enough to run in a stake like this," said Gallagher Friday. "She's been training good and deserves a shot to win a graded stake."

Polaire will try the main track for the first time in her career in the Bayakoa for trainer Donald Burke II and owner Gary Tanaka.

Polaire, an Irish-bred 6-year-old mare, has won five of 33 starts – all on turf – and earned $404,283. But she is winless in eight starts this year and has worked well on the main track here.

Polaire worked a bullet half mile in :47 Wednesday under exercise rider Dionisio Navarro. Iggy Puglisi has the Bayakoa call.

$150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II), fillies & mares, 1 1/16 mile
PP. Jockey, Weight
1. Top Of Our Game, Mike Smith, 113
2. Secret Of Mecca, Julie Krone, 111
3. Netherland, Jose Valdivia Jr., 115
4. Polaire, Iggy Puglisi, 114
5. Cee's Elegance, Victor Espinoza, 113
6. Angel Gift, David Flores, 115
7. Starrer, Valenzuela, 118