American Gal after her run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I)

American Gal after her run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I)

Dave Harmon

American Gal, Union Strike Meet in Starlet

Both ran in the 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Nov. 5.

Two high-quality horses who had less-than-ideal trips during the Nov. 5 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) will return to the track Dec. 10 in the $300,000 Starlet Stakes (gr. I) at Los Alamitos Race Course.

It can be argued that Kaleem Shah's homebred American Gal had the best performance in the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile Fillies, through the lens of her trip.

The daughter of Concord Point trained by Bob Baffert entered the Juvenile Fillies undefeated from two starts and just less than two weeks after her Oct. 23 rout in the six-furlong Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

American Gal's first start around two turns in the Juvenile Fillies was the widest of all. She broke awkwardly under jockey Mike Smith from post 12, got caught in no-man's land, and paid for it with a seven-wide run in the first turn. The wide trip continued into the second bend, when she made her move four- to five-wide, but despite all the lost ground continued running in the stretch under little urging from Smith. Four lengths behind winner Champagne Room at the wire, American Gal checked in third in the $2 million race.

"She probably lost the race at the break. It was halfway a slip and a stumble," said Smith, who will return to ride American Gal in the Starlet. "I mean, we were way, way out there in the first turn. I had to make a decision to gun her to get better position or go way wide."

Despite the wide trip, the filly surprised her Hall of Fame rider turning for home.

"I was surprised that she hung in there and was willing to make a fight of it and run well until the end," Smith said. "Nine times out of 10 a horse is done after that. Not taking anything away from the winner, but you can make an argument that if she got away good, she would have won the race.

"It was all a new experience for her and she ran really well. If she moves forward from that race at all, she's going to be tough."

Ruis Racing's Union Strike also experienced one of the worst starts in the field of 12. The Union Rags  filly broke last and entered the first turn rank under jockey Martin Garcia and took an extended amount of time to settle running behind horses.

Like American Gal, Union Strike came into the Juvenile Fillies off an impressive last-out win in the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I). In the Debutante the filly was trained by owner Mick Ruis' daughter, Shelbe Ruis, and was moved to the barn of Craig Dollase after, along with the rest of the Ruis Racing stable.

MITCHELL: Union Strike Rolls Home in Debutante

Union Strike never seemed to get comfortable in the Juvenile Fillies, but still ran in spots and finished relatively well to come in sixth, 9 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

There are no other stakes winners in the Starlet field, but a pair of fillies have come close in recent starts.

Tapped, a LNJ Foxwoods homebred by Tapit , ran second by three-quarters of a length last time out Oct. 29 in the Pike Place Dancer Stakes at Golden Gate Fields.

Berned, the lone East Coast shipper in the nine-filly field, was also three-quarters back in her last start Nov. 5 in the Tempted (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack, behind Miss Sky Warrior. Owned by Three C Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Robert Masiello, the Tom Albertrani-trained Bernardini  filly was flattered by Miss Sky Warrior Nov. 26, when she won the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct.

Entries: Starlet S. (G1)

LOS ALAMITOS RACE COURSE, Saturday, December 10, 2016, Race 8

  • Grade I
  • 1 1/16m
  • Dirt
  • $300,000
  • 2 yo Fillies
  • 3:58 PM (local)
11Go On Mary (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateDrayden Van Dyke120Doug F. O'Neill12/1
22Union Strike (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateGary L. Stevens120Craig Dollase7/2
33Tapped (KY)Kent J. Desormeaux120Jerry Hollendorfer6/1
44Mopotism (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMario Gutierrez120Doug F. O'Neill15/1
55Sandy's Surprise (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateSantiago Gonzalez120Doug F. O'Neill15/1
66Abel Tasman (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoseph Talamo120Simon Callaghan8/1
77American Gal (KY)Mike E. Smith120Bob Baffert5/2
88Fact of Life (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateStewart Elliott120Bob Baffert8/1
99Berned (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateNorberto Arroyo, Jr.120Thomas Albertrani4/1