Saturday, February 23, 2008 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . February 23, 2008 . . . Valentine Fever got down to the serious business of racing with just a few strides to go, but those few strides were enough for a slim nose victory in the $50,000 Valdale Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday.
Contrary to form, Love Buzz jetted from the 10 post right to the lead and then settled into easy early fractions of :24.18 and :48.31. Tracking the pace in third, Valentine Fever appeared content to follow even far into the stretch. Then Lovers Spat came to her from her outside. Valentine Fever bore down and fought Lovers Spat, and her momentum carried her past Love Buzz right at the wire. Lovers Spat finished third, half a length behind Love Buzz.
"[Trainer Greg Foley] told me he thought she'd be laying close, and if she was doing it easy I should just keep her there, or if we got an easy lead, then slow it down—he said just use my head," said winning jockey Tom Pompell. "It looked like we were going to get second or third and then real late she really kicked in."
Completing the order of finish were Vancy Pants, Northern Chorus, Ifonlyyoubelieve, Aqua Jean, Check My Daddy, Birdgirl, Bella Princessa, and One Man to Beat. Through the Clouds was a late scratch; Downtown Drifter did not draw in from the also-eligible list and was scratched.
Valentine Fever was the 3-2 favorite and paid $5, $3.60, and $2.60. She finished the one-mile Valdale in 1:39.44. The filly now has four wins in seven starts for career earnings of $109,764.
The Valdale was the second consecutive stakes win for Valentine Fever, who won the Cincinnati Trophy sprint last month at Turfway by eight lengths. The two races are preps for the Bourbonette Oaks (G3), run on the Lane’s End Stakes undercard. The Bourbonette, which Foley said would certainly be under consideration for Valentine Fever, is in turn a prep for the Kentucky Oaks, the Grade I distaff counterpart to the Kentucky Derby.
A daughter of Stormin Fever, Valentine Fever is owned by Lloyd Madison Farms IV LLC, a partnership that includes Tim Sweeney, who was on hand Saturday. She is the first foal bred by the partnership and the first out of Betshe Hath a Way, a Keeneland purchase the partnership intended to race. Betshe Hath a Way won her first and only race but was injured. Because her name is a play on the name of Sweeney’s granddaughter, Lloyd Madison Farms IV LLC decided to keep her as their first broodmare. "I got emotionally attached," laughed Sweeney.
Live racing continues Sunday at 1:10pm. Simulcast racing continues Sunday and Monday, with gates opening at 11:15am.