Union Strike seeks to spoil Starlet

The Grade I, $300,000 Starlet Stakes for two-year-old fillies is the feature at Los Alamitos Racecourse on Saturday afternoon. Going as Race 8 on a nine-race program, post time for the 1 1/16th-mile event is 6:58 p.m. EST. Several of Southern Cal’s finest riders will make the trip to Los Al, so be sure to study this race carefully if you’re taking part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#7 AMERICAN GAL was installed as the 5-2 favorite, though she may go off lower than that come post time. She won her first two races in flashy fashion before encountering trouble in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last time. Through no fault of Mike Smith, who retains the mount, AMERICAN GAL suffered a wide trip from post 12 while settling for third as the betting favorite that day. However, her troubles were obvious, so she’s likely to attract big betting dollars, especially since Bob Baffert is her trainer. And outside of her maiden score, AMERICAN GAL’s races have not come back extremely fast nor productive. I’ll be looking to bet against her at a potentially short price.

My top selection is #2 UNION STRIKE (7-2), winner of the Del Mar Debutante two starts ago. She exits a sixth-place finish in the Juvenile Fillies, but had legitimate excuses that day. The Juvenile Fillies was her first start for Craig Dollase, who did not have her training particularly fast, and she steadied twice under Martin Garcia in the early going. Her last workout was a bullet and she’ll get the services of Gary Stevens this time around, so there’s reason to believe she’ll run back to her sharp score in September’s Del Mar Debutante.

#9 BERNED (4-1) is an intriguing contender shipping in from New York. She already has a route win to her credit two starts ago and was a late-closing second in the Tempted Stakes behind next-out stakes winner Miss Sky Warrior. Norberto Arroyo Jr. has the assignment from the far outside post.

The play: $4 exacta box 2/7, $2 exacta 2,7/9 ($12)

DFJ analysis: Mike Smith only has two mounts on this nine-race card, but they come in both of Los Al’s Grade I races. Smith pilots AMERICAN GAL, who’s very likely to hit the board in the Starlet, and MASTERY, the 1-2 favorite, in the Cash Call Futurity. As long as both of his mounts run, be sure to get him into your stable this Saturday.

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