· Valadorna to Rachel Alexandra
· Arklow to Risen Star
· Promising Late-Bloomer Redesdale to Stretch Out for Walsh
VALADORNA TO RACHEL ALEXANDRA
Stonestreet Stables’ Valadorna has exited her comeback effort in top shape, according to trainer Mark Casse. The daughter of Curlin, a homebred for Stonestreet, made her first start in nearly three months when closing from last of five in a mile and 70-yard first-level allowance and winning in the final strides under confident handling by regular rider Julien Leparoux. The final margin was a half-length in what was the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up’s second career victory from four starts.
According to Casse, Valadorna will now go on to the Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, as planned, on Feb. 25. In said Grade I $1,000,000 Longines Kentucky Oaks prep she will likely face Coffeepot Stables’ Wayne Catalano-trained Farrell, who won the Listed $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes on Jan. 21.
ARKLOW TO RISEN STAR
Donegal Racing’s Arklow continues to impress onlookers with a progressive set of performances for trainer Brad Cox. Unfortunately for his connections, he has yet to win any of those races. Still, his big runs of recent have garnered the maiden enough clout to move on to the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 25 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Last out, the brawny son of Arch was fourth, beaten 1¾ lengths, in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 21. That effort followed a runner-up finish a few weeks prior at the same mile and 70-yard New Orleans oval trip by a length behind John. C. Oxley’s well-regarded Mark Casse trainee Takeoff. Said charge would go on to finish only a head to the good of Arklow in the Lecomte, in third place.
“He came out of it in good order,” Cox said. “I thought it was a very good race. In the stretch, the eventual runner-up (Untrapped) came out on him twice and he kind of shied away from him. I think if that wouldn’t have happened, maybe he would have been third.
“He should move forward off that race,” Cox continued. “The goal with him is to get him to the (Grade I $2,000,000) Kentucky Derby, eventually, but for right now, we’ll focus on the Risen Star.”
A long-striding colt out of an Empire Maker mare who should enjoy the increase in trip to 1 1/16 miles in the Risen Star — albeit marginal — Arklow has moved forward on Equibase speed figures in each of his four tries. In a seven-furlong debut on Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs, he earned a 69 when finishing third to well-intended Steve Asmussen trainee Resiliency. He then was seventh in his two-turn debut over that same surface 20 days later going 1 1/16 miles, earning a 72. One month to the day later he earned a 94 chasing Takeoff and then finally a 98 over the muddy, sealed Fair Grounds main track in the Lecomte.
PROMISING LATE-BLOOMER REDESDALE TO STRETCH OUT FOR WALSH
One of the more intriguing performances of the last week at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots was that of Redesdale, a newly turned 4-year-old who stayed undefeated in only his second career start on Jan. 20. Sent to post as the 9-10 favorite, the son of Speightstown chased down a talented Larry Jones trainee in Wainscott, closed a final quarter in just under 24 seconds and finished up the six-furlong heat in 1:09.75 under Robby Albarado
Redesdale was bred by Juddmonte Farms and is a son of Harpia, who in her 13-race career for Juddmonte and Bobby Frankel, captured the Grade II Shirley Jones Stakes at Gulfstream Park and placed in four other graded stakes in her abbreviated career. More importantly, Harpia is a full-sister to iconic sire Danehill, creating an intriguing cross of dirt, turf, sprint and stamina influences in Redesdale’s lineage. He is owned by Walsh and Chad Schumer.
“I thought it was very impressive what he did the other day,” Walsh said. “He looked beat at the eighth-pole against a good horse and once he got the left hand he took off. We’re very excited about him. Ever since we started working him last year, we liked him. Chad bought him in the January sale and I think (Juddmonte) had a lot of problems with him and were late getting him started. He hasn’t had many issues with me and has done extremely well. Hopefully we will keep him healthy.”
Redesdale debuted in late May for Walsh and Schumer, winning a six-furlong maiden special weight event in a swift 1:09.86 at Churchill Downs.
“We’ve always thought he was going to be a horse who did well going seven-eighths or a mile, so I don’t know that I’ll sprint him again,” Walsh concluded. “I may even try him on grass.”