Thursday, February 22, 2007 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . February 22, 2007 . . . Of the dozen 3-year-old fillies entered in the $50,000 Valdale Stakes at Turfway Park this Saturday, at least six like the early lead, which could make for a crowd at the first turn and elbow room down the stretch.
One to benefit from early speed is Miss A. Bomb, winner of the Gowell in December and runner-up in the Cincinnati Trophy last month, both sprints at Turfway. She has no wins at two turns, having tried Polytrack at Keeneland and a sealed track at Churchill. To her advantage heading into the one-mile Valdale is a 2-2-0 record in four tries on Turfway's Polytrack. Orlando Mojica knows how to settle her off the pace and is back aboard for trainer Grant Hofmans.
After finishing out of the money in her first four starts, Luna Dorado laid down back-to-back stalking wins on Turfway's Polytrack, both at the Valdale distance. She makes her first stakes appearance Saturday for trainer Niall O'Callaghan, with Hector Rosario Jr. to ride.
Our Dancing Babe also comes in off consecutive wins at Turfway, the most recent a mile allowance two weeks ago. Coming from off the pace, she broke her maiden by 7 1/4 lengths and has developed the confidence to get past the leaders. Alonso Quinonez rides for trainer D. M. "Speedy" Smithwick Jr.
If speed takes the race, it may well belong to Bavarian Belle, third in the Caressing Handicap at Churchill last fall and fourth in the Jessamine County at Keeneland, both two turns on turf. Two races back she went gate to wire on the dirt at Fair Grounds, where she has two bullet works this month. Trainer Rebecca Maker has named Inosencio Diego to rider Bavarian Belle in her first start on Polytrack.
Another speedster, Crafty Melissa, enters the Valdale off a maiden win at Turfway, where she controlled a slow pace over a mile to win by 9 1/2 lengths. Victor Lebron has the mount for the first time for trainer Elwood McCann Sr.
Others in the field are Carryin the Dream (jockey Justin Vitek); Stravinsky's Code (Bill Troilo); She's Impossible (Rodney Prescott); Tylan (Rafael Mojica Jr.); Beautiful Venue (Phil Teator); Moments Past (Miguel Mena); and Cee Stone (Dean Butler). Spanish Ghost and Miss Taro are on the also-eligible list.
Racing begins Saturday at 1:10 p.m. Admission and parking are free.