Starrer made up for tough luck earlier in the year, coming from off the pace under Jerry Bailey to win the grade II, $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap by one length over game California-bred filly Queenie Belle.Starrer, who stumbled and lost her rider at the start as the favorite in the grade I Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont Park in July, won for the third time in nine 2001 starts. The victory was the first in five starts for the 3-year-old daughter of Dynaformer since she won the Princess Stakes here in June."This is a good clean trip for her," said trainer David Hofmans, who later on the card teamed with Bailey to win the Hollywood Futurity with Siphonic. "She finally had some luck. This poor filly, the race she fell in, she was 3-5 in there and she was just perfect. She was like she was before this race. Because right now, she has peaked again." Starrer, who was running for the first time since finishing fifth in the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Oct. 27, earned $90,000 to increase her lifetime earnings to $433,033."The other filly (Queenie Belle) did make us work for it," Bailey said. "But I think my filly was playing around more than anything else. She got to the other one pretty easily and didn't want to go by her until the last maybe 100 yards. Then she started easing off."Starrer, the 4-5 favorite, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:42 2/5, rewarding backers with payoffs of $3.60, $2.80 and $2.60. Queenie Belle, ridden by Brice Blanc, paid $4.80 and $4.20. The show payoff on Tropical Lady was $5.80.In the day's third graded stakes, Garrett Gomez guided Brazilian-bred Verruma to a half-length victory over Vencera in the $150,000 Dahlia Handicap.Verruma, purchased by trainer James Chapman and partners following a victory in the Athenia at Belmont Park on Oct. 26, made up for a disappointing ninth-place finish in The Matriarch here on Nov. 25.
"We needed that to help us get out on her and she ran well," Chapman said. "We threw it (Matriarch) out. It was a grade I and we didn't really know her."Verruma, a $325,000 purchase, earned $90,000 for her new connections. She has won nine of 15 lifetime starts for earnings of $345,554.She covered 1 1/16 miles over the Lakeside Turf Course in 1:43 1/5, paying $10.40, $6.40 and $3. Vencera, ridden by Bailey, paid $5.60 and $2.80. Favorite Heads Will Roll, ridden by Solis, paid $2.20 to show.(Chart, Equibase)