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OAK TREE : On Turf or Off, Starolamo's a Winner


Trainer Kim Lloyd was a little disappointed when rain forced the $81,225 Autumn Days Handicap, the traditional opening-day feature at Oak Tree, off the grass.

He was eager to try Starolamo, who had won her only previous start on the turf, on Santa Anita's hillside course.

How the 5-year-old Bargain Day mare would have done on the grass Wednesday will never be known, but it wouldn't have been an improvement on her main track performance.

The 8-5 favorite against a field reduced to six starters after four late scratches, Starolamo found room late under Kent Desormeaux and went on to beat Sophisticatedcielo by a half-length in 1:16 for the 6 1/2 furlongs.

This was the fourth victory in five starts for Starolamo since she returned to the races after being away for nearly nine months.

"She was very impressive today because she was stuck, stuck, stuck with nowhere to go," Lloyd said. "But when she's right, she'll always give you that run the last part of the race.

"I'm proud of her. The only thing that would have kept her from running is a sealed track. She's had her problems--she's sound now--but I don't want to run her over anything hard. But I really wanted to run her on the turf because the best race of her career was on the turf after a nine-month layoff.

"Plus, I wanted her to get used to the configuration of the downhill turf course because her next race is going to be in the Cal Cup (Oct. 29) on the turf."

Owned by Lamont Isom and Stanley Moore, Starolamo has earned $193,275 from seven victories in 13 lifetime starts.

Sophisticatedcielo finished nearly three lengths ahead of Beautiful Gem, then came 5-2 second choice Desert Stormer, Forest Haven and Booklore.

Oak Tree Notes

Kent Desormeaux and Pat Valenzuela both won twice Wednesday. Desormeaux completed a sweep of the late double, winning the ninth with Cardinal Peak after Starolamo's victory. Valenzuela scored upsets with Raising Havoc in the sixth and Ashtabula in the seventh.

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