Abel Tasman overtakes American Gal to win the Starlet

Abel Tasman overtakes American Gal to win the Starlet

Benoit Photo

Abel Tasman Upsets American Gal in Starlet

Quality Road filly has now won three straight races.

Clearsky Farms' homebred Abel Tasman continued her upward trajectory with an upset victory in the $300,000 Starlet Stakes (gr. I) Dec. 10 at Los Alamitos Race Course

Video: Starlet S. (G1)

Fifth in her debut at Del Mar in August, the Quality Road  filly broke her maiden going a mile at Santa Anita Park in September, then scored in a Del Mar allowance in November.

In the Starlet, the Simon Callaghan-trained filly came into the stretch in fifth position and wore down favored American Gal on the outside to win by a length under jockey Joe Talamo.

"She's improving with every start and I knew she was going to run big today, because she came home great in her last workout (Dec. 3)," Talamo said. "The added distance was in her favor and it looked on paper like there was a lot of speed to help set things up."

A half sister to grade III winner Sky Girl, Abel Tasman finished off the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.25 at odds of 12-1. Seventh early, then fifth in the backstretch behind fractions of :22.79, :46.78, and 1:10.81 set by Tapped through six furlongs, Abel Tasman moved up on the inside entering the turn to get better position.

"We thought she would definitely be more forwardly placed, but Joe went to plan B and it worked out," Callaghan said. "He saved ground and gave her a real chilly ride. I think the distance is key for this filly. We decided to supplement (for $10,000), because she was getting good at the right time and I thought she had the stamina for this race."

Although it wasn't as extreme as her seven-wide trip early in the 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), 4-5 favorite American Gal was again out four wide entering the first turn in the Starlet. The Concord Point filly trained by Bob Baffert had a 1 1/2-length lead with a furlong to run, however, and couldn't hold off the late drive from Abel Tasman.

"She had more or less the same kind of trip as she did in the Breeders' Cup," said American Gal's jockey, Mike Smith. "I couldn't get behind them to get over and I couldn't get in front of them to get over. The long stretch got to her. I think with a normal trip, maybe I win."

Longshot Mopotism held third after stalking the early pace and was followed by Tapped, Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) winner Union Strike, Sandy's Surprise, Berned, Fact of Life, and Go On Mary to complete the order of finish.

The winner paid $27.20, $7.60, and $5.60 across the board. American Gal delivered $2.60 and $2.20, and Mopotism brought $6.40 to show.

Bred in Kentucky out of the Deputy Minister mare Vargas Girl, Abel Tasman now has $247,860 in earnings to go along with her three straight victories.