· Wicked Lick Well-Intended By Walsh
· Valadorna Returns on Top
· Running Mate to Clinic and Farm for Check-Up
WICKED LICK WELL-INTENDED BY WALSH
One of the more impressive runner-up efforts of the day last Saturday was that of Lee Mauberret’s homebred filly Wicked Lick in the Listed $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes. Racing fifth of six after a slow start under Brian Hernandez, Jr., the Brendan Walsh-trained daughter from the first crop of Maclean’s Music launched a menacing rally at the top of the stretch on the muddy and sealed going, wearing down all but graded stakes-winning favorite and 2¾-length victress Farrell. The leggy chestnut filly came out of her effort in top shape, according to her conditioner.
“She came out really well and looks fine,” Walsh said. “I would think this was an improved performance. She seems like she’s still improving all the time and she was a couple lengths behind one of the best fillies in the country.
“She’s progressing,” he continued. “Like I’ve always said, she’s not quite there physically, which is encouraging because she ran so well. She’s getting there and she’s exciting because she’s very solid and tries very hard. She has all the qualities you look for in a 3-year-old filly and we’ll move on to the next one.”
The next one is the Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Feb. 25 over 1 1/16 miles. Such will be an extension from the mile and 70-yard distance of her previous two attempts, including an allowance effort two back in which she was stopped on the turn, ralled stoutly to finish second to highly regarded Untapped and galloped out past that rival on the turn.
After a slow start, Walsh’s stable has begun to flourish at the Fair Grounds, winning with multiple levels and finishing encouraging seconds and thirds with young horses. Walsh has split his stable between New Orleans and South Florida, with the majority of his stock at the Fair Grounds and about 20 horses at Gulfstream Park.
“We have had a great time in New Orleans, even with the quarantine,” he said. “Our horses like it here and have done well. Our young horses have trained well and put in some nice works and I’m glad they have followed it up and ran well.”
VALADORNA RETURNS ON TOP
Stonestreet Stables’ Valadorna kicked off her season in style on Friday, coming home a half-length winner in her 3-year-old bow for trainer Mark Casse. Long highly regarded, the homebred daughter of Curlin was making her first start since a runner-up effort to recently crowned champion Champagne Room in the Grade I $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Racing last early on, she angled out at the top of the lane and turned in a grinding run under a confident ride to collar longtime leader What What What in the final yards. The bay filly proved what many already knew — that she will be one to watch as the Grade I $1,000,000 Kentucky Oaks approaches. Regular rider Julien Leparoux was in for the race.
“She felt good,” Leparoux said. “For her first race back, she had been breezing good, but it’s nice to have a nice race under her belt. You can breeze them as many times as you want, but a race like that makes them ready a bit more.”
“It was good,” Casse added. “We were a little worried because we missed a gate work with her because of the fog, and that probably made her a little slower than normal out of there. This is the way we like to do things. This worked out nice, and we’re trying to get ready for the [Kentucky Oaks].”
RUNNING MATE TO CLINIC AND FARM FOR CHECK-UP
Following a less-than-advantageous set-up and first poor performance of his four-race career in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes, Bret Jones’ Running Mate has been sent to a clinic for evaluation, according to trainer Larry Jones. The homebred son of Creative Cause was hooked from the spring of the latch in the mile and 70-yard event over a muddy, sealed course, setting fractions of 46.47 and 1:12.19 before giving way and finishing ninth, beaten 15 lengths.
“He went to the clinic and farm and I haven’t heard back yet,” Jones said. “We don’t know that there was anything wrong with him, but after that race, we wanted to get him checked.”
Running Mate won his first two races by a combined 13¾ lengths before finishing second in the $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes on Dec. 17. He was sent to post as the 4-1 second choice in the Lecomte and was ridden by Gabriel Saez.