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A Tough One to Meet in Starlet

Times Staff Writer

Stevie Wonderboy, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and soon to be 2-year-old champion, is not the only talented youngster in trainer Doug O’Neill’s stable.

Meetmeinthewoods, a 2-year-old daughter of General Meeting, is not as accomplished as her stablemate, but she has potential.

Where Meetmeinthewoods will make the second start of her career is an indicator of how much O’Neill thinks of the chestnut filly.

Less than a month after she broke into the game with a 5 1/2 -length win against maidens going six furlongs, Meetmeinthewoods will step up in class and stretch out in the $250,000 guaranteed Hollywood Starlet on Sunday.

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Today, in another Grade I, 2-year-old males get together for the $250,000 Hollywood Futurity, at the same distance, 1 1/16 miles.

Bred in California by Betty Mabee, Meetmeinthewoods was purchased for $30,000, a bargain price, as it turns out, by Paul Reddam and O’Neill’s brother Dennis at the Barretts’ sale in May.

What might have scared some potential buyers was a slow workout before the sale.

“She went an eighth of a mile in 10.90 seconds and that helped us,” Doug O’Neill said. “Dennis picked her out. She slipped through the cracks.”

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Demonstrating talent from the day she arrived at the barn, Meetmeinthewoods was impressive in her debut. She ran three-quarters of a mile in 1:08.75, earning a Beyer speed figure, published in the Daily Racing Form, of 100.

The highest figure recorded by any of the other possible Starlet participants was a 91 by Balance when she won the Sharp Cat on Nov. 27.

Meetmeinthewoods, who is being supplemented to the Starlet for $20,000, figures to be even more comfortable around two turns.

“The way she was working before her first race, we kind of had the Starlet in the back of our minds,” O’Neill said. “But you don’t know for sure until they race. We had to take a shot at the Starlet, given the way she won. She reminds us a lot of Sharp Lisa.”

Sharp Lisa finished second to favored Splendid Blended in the 2004 Starlet and was a stakes winner for O’Neill and Reddam.

Corey Nakatani, who has won the Starlet a record four times, will ride Meetmeinthewoods.

Stevie Wonderboy would have been favored had he been pointed toward the Futurity, but he is done for 2005. He is scheduled to make his first start as a 3-year-old in the San Rafael Stakes on Jan. 14 at Santa Anita.

O’Neill will have a starter, Jealous Profit, in the Futurity, but the maiden will be a longshot in a field that attracted seven others.

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Trainer Bob Baffert will try for his fourth win in the race, which would tie him with Wayne Lukas for most in the Grade I, with Bob And John, who was disqualified by a questionable decision by the stewards after winning the Real Quiet last month.


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