Faiza and jockey Flavien Prat, outside, hold off Pride of the Nile to win the G1 Starlet
Michael Lund Petersen’s Faiza prevailed in a stirring stretch battle with runner-up Pride of the Nile and then a stewards inquiry to land the $300,000 Starlet (G1) for 2-year-old fillies Saturday at Los Alamitos Race Course.
A bumping incident involving both the winner and the runner-up and pacesetter Doinitthehardway at the top of the stretch ignited the inquiry, but the final result was unchanged. Doinitthehardway, Faiza’s stablemate, faded to fourth and Uncontrollable was up to finish third, 5 1/2 lengths behind Pride of the Nile.
A Kentucky-bred Girvin filly ridden by Flavien Prat, Faiza won by a head completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.49, giving trainer Bob Baffert a ninth victory in the race and sixth consecutively. She returned $3.
Prat had Faiza ideally positioned in third as Doinitthehardway sped out to lead early and set fractions of :23.36, :47,87, and 1:12.86 or six furlongs while Pride of the Nile pressed from second. Faiza uncoiled her winning bid around the turn and took charge soon after the bumping incident at the quarter pole. Pride of the Nile proved a resolute rival and dug in, matching strides down the stretch with Faiza, who gamely prevailed at the wire.
The Starlet is one of the races on the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks,” with the winner receiving 10 points toward a berth in the race May 5, 2023, at Churchill Downs.
Faiza, a $725,000 purchase from consignor Paul Sharp at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale in May, was supplemented to the Starlet for $10,000 following her 3 ½-lenght debut win Nov. 12 at Del Mar.
Bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones, Faiza was produced by the Smart Strike mare Sweet Pistol.
STARLET (G1) STAKES QUOTES
JOCKEY FLAVIEN PRAT (Winner, Faiza): “She traveled well the entire way. She switched leads at the head of the stretch and there was a little bumping, but I really didn’t feel anything. Both her and (runner-up Pride of the Nile) ran very hard to the wire.”
TRAINER BOB BAFFERT (Winner, Faiza and Fourth, Doinithehardway): ”This place is special to me and especially on the day of the Champion of Champions. I have such great memories and Los Alamitos just means a lot to me. To win this race this many times (six in a row at Los Alamitos and a record nine overall – including three at Hollywood Park) is a tribute to the clientele I have and a great staff that works with me. It’s a team effort. (Faiza) has always shown she’s a specia filly and she had to be special today to win just off one maiden race. She’s still green, but I think she has a big future in front of her. I think she’s going to get better with age, but we’ve loved her from the start and she’s by one of the hottest sires (Girvin) going right now.”