INGLEWOOD, Calif. (Dec. 18, 2005) - Longshot Diplomat Lady, free of expected company up front early in Sunday's $457,000 Hollywood Starlet, posted a front-running victory under jockey Tyler Baze while paying a record $80 in the Grade I event at Hollywood Park.
Diplomat Lady, at 39-1 in the field of 11 2-year-old fillies, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.89, hanging on in the stretch to finish a half-length in front of favorite Balance. Sabatini closed from far back to finish third, followed by second-choice Meetmeinthewoods.
"It's my first Grade I, my throat is sore but I feel like jumping out of my skin," said Chris Paasch, who trains the daughter of Forestry for Charlie Cono.
Diplomat Lady, a $20,000 supplemental entry and the third-highest priced filly in the Starlet field, set up a Pick Six carryover of $147,515 Monday as Hollywood Park closes its 27-day Autumn Meet with a 12:30 p.m. post time.
Besides the attractive win price, Diplomat Lady paid $20.60 to place and $8.80 to show. Balance, ridden by Victor Espinoza, returned $3.60 and $2.40. Sabatani, beaten three lengths with Garrett Gomez up, paid $3.60.
Diplomat Lady, a $400,000 purchase who banked $273,600 to raise her earnings to $334,800, has won three of five starts. She captured an allowance race Nov. 12 at Hollywood Park following two poor performances in August at Del Mar. "The two races down at Del Mar she was sick," Paasch said. "We stopped on her, gave her some time. We ran her back in the allowance race to hopefully get her confidence built back up.
"I was afraid with all the speed in here today that we would be hard-pressed for the lead," Paasch added. "I was quite surprised to see her pull away the first quarter mile as easily as she did."
Baze had high hopes entering the race. "Honestly, I'm not surprised at all," he said. "Really. Nobody thought anything about her, but I knew she had a great chance. The last time I rode her, I never even asked her to run. Then I worked her the seven-eights that shows in the Racing Form, and she galloped out the mile really, really nice. I told Christopher Paasch I'd go anywhere to ride this filly, that she is really something special. I felt the favorite coming at the top of the lane, but I just kept riding my filly. She's got an awfully big heart."
Espinoza and David Hofmans, the trainer of Balance, felt the favorite was hurt by the pace scenario.
"She has a big heart and ran very well," Espinoza said. "At the first turn, she got bumped pretty good a couple of times. It was nobody's fault. It might have affected us a little bit. When you get beat that close, you want to look at something that might have made a difference. But I never really thought I was going to be able to catch the leader the way it went. She was going easy on the lead, and I'm trying my best to catch her. My filly just couldn't quicken enough to catch her."
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