Supplemented late at a total cost of $20,000, Pure Fun became a Grade 1 winner Saturday taking down top prize in the Hollywood Starlet at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Trained by Ken McPeek for his family’s Magdalena Racing, Pure Fun, a 2-year-old daughter of Pure Prize and the Key to the Mint mare Chelsea Green, was behind all seven of her opponents approaching the stretch.
Racing in the clear under jockey Garrett Gomez, the chestnut, who was making her first start outside Kentucky and first over a synthetic surface, rallied strongly and collared pacesetter Blonde Fog with about a sixteenth of a mile to go.
The one length win at odds of 6-1 was the second in a row and third in eight starts for Pure Fun, who completed the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track in 1:44.65. She’s earned $343,599.
McPeek’s decision to supplement was made after Pure Fun’s 9 ¼ length victory in an optional claimer Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs. In her only previous appearance in a graded event before Saturday, Pure Fun, who began her career in a $50,000 maiden claimer in June, finished seventh in the Grade 3 Jessamine Oct. 11 over the turf at Keeneland.
Among those who were no match for the winner Saturday was 2-5 favorite Executiveprivilege. The double Grade 1 winner finished fourth – beaten 5 ½ lengths – without a visible excuse for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who also saddled 5-1 second choice Blonde Fog.
In her initial collaboration with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, Executiveprivilege, who was making her first start in blinkers, was well positioned inside on the backstretch, moved into second outside Blonde Fog after six furlongs, but failed to sustain her bid.
There was plenty of thought that another Grade 1 victory for the daughter of First Samurai would have greatly enhanced her case for an Eclipse Award as the champion 2-year-old filly, despite her loss to Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Nov. 2.
The first off the board finish of Executiveprivilege’s career triggered inflated show prices. Of the $162,560 in the show pool, $123,574 was bet on the Kentucky bred.
“Extremely disappointed,’’ said Smith. “I had a beautiful trip, but she got her head way up and did not menace. I just hope everything is OK with her after the race.’’
Providing Gomez with his first Starlet win, Pure Fun paid $14.40, $6 and $10.60.
“She jumped away well, but I was a little bit concerned because she was not traveling her best around the first turn,’’ said Gomez. “About halfway down the backside, she started figuring it out and when I wheeled her out she was really accelerating. She took off and was very impressive.”
Pure Fun/Benoit photo