Gary Stevens, who had an eventful Belmont Stakes week, will return from a five-day break to ride Mike Pegram's Love At Noon in the $100,000 Princess Stakes (Gr. II) at Hollywood Park Saturday.
Stevens, who captured the Belmont (Gr. I) aboard Point Given, strained his knee back in California the next day and remained on the sidelines all week. He knows how talented this 3-year-old filly is, however, after she shattered a Churchill Downs track record on the Kentucky Derby (Gr. I) undercard with Stevens in the saddle. The daughter of Afternoon Deelites raced 6 1/2 furlongs in a speedy 1:14.34, shaving 4/5s of a second off the record. Love At Noon owns two wins from three starts for trainer Bob Baffert, her lone loss coming in her last race, the grade III Dogwood Stakes at Churchill.
She will face five foes in the Princess, including Affluent, who has been busy chasing the now-retired Golden Ballet around Santa Anita all year. The daughter of Affirmed finished second to that opponent in the grade II Santa Ynez in January, and third behind her in the grade I Las Virgenes and the grade I Santa Anita Oaks. Affluent, conditioned by Ron McAnally, is a homebred who races for Janis Whitman, and has two wins from six starts good for $160,800 in her career.
Trainer David Hofmans will send out Starrer, a daughter of Dynaformer, for owner George Krikorian. Starrer captured the Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita in April before finishing second to Golden Ballet in the Railbird (Gr. II) at Hollywood Park. She has never been off the board in six career outings.
The field for the 1 1/16-mile Princess in post position order with jockeys and weights is: Starrer, Chris McCarron, 115; Love At Noon, Gary Stevens, 115; Affluent, Eddie Delahoussaye, 117; Little Firely, Jose Valdivia Jr., 115; Bafferta, Laffit Pincay Jr., 115; and Elaine's Angel, Alex Solis, 119.