Valadorna appears poised to step up in Juvenile Fillies

Profile Picture: James Scully

October 30th, 2016

No last-out maiden winner has captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 32 previous runnings but that won’t stop Valadorna. A dynamic Keeneland maiden scorer most recently, the Curlin filly won’t face an imposing group of stakes-experienced foes at Santa Anita and 2016 may be the right year for an up-and-coming talent to prevail.

We witnessed similar circumstances in the 2013 Juvenile at Santa Anita as New Year’s Day moved forward off a Del Mar maiden win to defeat less-than-stellar competition with a seasoning advantage. None of his 12 Juvenile rivals subsequently captured a Grade 1 race and New Year’s Day was unfortunately injured and retired before racing again.

Monday’s Juvenile Fillies post position draw is more important to me than Valadorna’s lack of experience because I don’t want to see her receive the innermost starting position.

Valadorna broke from the rail when making her career debut at the tricky one-mile distance at Churchill Downs on September 16 and instantly spotted the competition a couple of lengths as she missed the break with a slow start. She advanced up the inside into contention but appeared to lose focus after turning into the stretch, racing greenly as she weaved in and out momentarily, and it didn’t look like she’d be close with a sixteenth of a mile remaining.

Then the light switch seemingly came on as Valadorna accelerated home, blowing past Untapped in deep stretch to finish a clear second. That rival stamped herself as a serious talent when posting an eye-catching maiden win at Keeneland last week.

Valadorna returned much quicker, stretching out to two turns in a 1 1/16-mile maiden on the October 7 opening-day card at Keeneland. The Mark Casse trainee broke better and settled into midpack behind a slow early pace before pulling herself into the race on the far turn. The race was quickly over as the big, strong bay filly offered a terrific turn of foot into the stretch, finishing full of run as she easily drew off to win by a widening 6-length margin.

She came home quickly, completing the final five-sixteenths in 31 3/5 seconds, and most of Valadorna’s Juvenile Fillies rivals have been finishing slowly in their preps.