Varda captures Starlet at Los Alamitos after Princess Noor injury

The richest race of Los Alamitos’ Los Angeles County Fair Winter Thoroughbred encounter, the $ 300,000 Grade I Starlet turned into a longshot player’s joy on Saturday when the 3-5 favorite, Princess Noor, was stopped early in the trajectory by jockey Victor Espinoza.

Princess Noor, who won her first three races with a combined length of 17 1/4 for a disappointing fifth place in last month’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Keeneland, had just taken the lead and appeared to be cruising before Espinoza sent the 2 . -year-old Not This Time filly to the outside gate with an injury to her left front leg.

“She walked so easily,” said trainer Bob Baffert.

Princess Noor’s troubles, and the fact that the second-guessing Astute (6-5) did not threaten Astute during the trajectory, paved the way for the 17-1 longshot Varda to go home from the last in the field of five horses come and nail ally Kalypso (11-1) in the final stage, winning the 1 1/16-mile race by 1 1/2 lengths while covering the distance in 1: 44.53.

The top two finishers, trained by Baffert, put together an exact payout of $ 193.80 for every two dollars wagered, but it was the Hall of Fame trainer’s third filly in the race, Princess Noor, that people are concerned about after the field passed the finish line. .

Princess Noor walked into the horse ambulance on her own and was transported to Baffert’s barn in Los Alamitos, where she was examined by a veterinarian. Baffert said it was “very scary” to watch everything happen.

“She looks comfortable now,” said Baffert about two hours after the race. When she got back to the shed, she looked better. Her X-rays were clean, so that’s okay. Her tendon had some inflammation, so I don’t know if she hit it or what, but we won’t know for a few days. We scan it and make an ultrasound.

“She was doing well when she got out of the trailer, so that’s very reassuring. It was scary, but it’s not life-threatening or anything. ”

Baffert said it was too early to know if Princess Noor will be racing again.

“We won’t know for a few days,” he said. “Before we make those phone calls, you don’t know how much time they need until you make the ultrasound.”

The win was Baffert’s fourth consecutive Starlet and Drayden Van Dyke has driven all four winners. They previously won with Dream Team (2017), Chasing Yesterday (2018) and Bast (2019).

“(Varda) worked really well and she looked like the kind of filly that the farther the better with her,” said Baffert. “That’s why we waited and waited with her.”

Varda finished second, with 8 1/4 lengths defeated by Princess Noor, in the Grade II Chandelier Stakes in Santa Anita on September 26. She has now won two out of three for a profit of $ 253,000, thanks to Saturday’s winning share of $ 180,000.

“She always does her best,” said Van Dyke, who rode the filly in all three races. ‘She broke well and we just waited. She needed every bit of that long stretch. ”

Kalypso came second by four lengths over Nasreddine, a Michael McCarthy-trained filly that was supplemented by the race by her owners after her first win at Del Mar on November 7.

Asture, undefeated in two starts for Saturday and a 7 1/2 tall winner of the Desi Arnaz Stakes at Del Mar on November 14 in her most recent outing, never threatened and finished fourth under Flavien Prat, who took over the mountain as a regular rider Mike Smith tested positive for COVID-19 and had to miss the opening weekend of the 11-day Los Alamitos meeting.

Los Alamitos will resume the action on Sunday, starting at 12:30 p.m., with a nine-race schedule culminating in the $ 100,000 Grade III Bayakoa Stakes for fillies and mares.