Saturday, February 26, 2011 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Feb. 26, 2011 – Harlan's Ruby returned from a four-month layoff to win the $50,000 Valdale Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday, setting her up for a run at the Bourbonette Oaks (G3) next month. Veteran rider Perry Ouzts was in the irons for trainer Ken McPeek.
"(The Bourbonette) has been our plan, if we were successful here," said Michael Kleier, assistant to McPeek. "She has a lot of class and she's been in Florida training very forwardly, and she's had a lot of experience going long. We wanted to get a race on this track and feel confident about winning. Perry had his plan when he came out of the room and I thought, 'Well, we're not going to change the plan of a 5,000-win rider.'"
With the exception of her break from the outside post, Harlan's Ruby raced according to plan. "My only concern was whether she’d flatten out coming off the layoff," Ouzts said. "I told them I hoped she'd break good and lay close and then pass them when I needed her to—and that's what she did. The 8 horse (Angelica Zapata) hit her sideways coming out of the gate, but after that I got her up on her feet, got her into position down the backside. She grabbed the bridle really good, and put me in a perfect position. I was only about a length or two off the lead (at the halfway point). I was following the 7 horse (Jelly Cable) because I thought she was one of the horses to beat."
Kitten's Dancer was last and far back after the first quarter of the mile race and closed with power to get the best of a three-way photo for second, 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Another head back was Jelly Cable, who came from off the pace to lead after three-quarters and battled Harlan’s Ruby nearly to the final strides. A head further back in fourth was Angelica Zapata, who was fractious in the paddock and the gate and lost her footing at the start.
Fifth and following were Touch Screen, Princess de Oro, Golden Phoenix, City Run, and Maegans Princesses.
The lead shifted throughout the race, with Maegans Princesses setting the first quarter in :24.56, Touch Screen setting the second in :48.52, and Jelly Cable clocking the third in 1:13.64 before Harlan’s Ruby took over at the top of the stretch to finish in 1:40.34.
Harlan's Ruby returned $6.40, $4, and $3 as the 2-1 favorite.
By Harlan's Holiday out of Smiling Eyes, by Saint Ballado, Harlan's Ruby added $29,760 to her bankroll by winning the Valdale and has now earned $145,639 for Shawnee Racing Stable Ltd. She has two wins and one second from seven career starts.
Harlan's Ruby had not raced since finishing eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) on November 5 but had already proven her class and her ability at two turns with a maiden special win on the Saratoga turf and a runner-up finish, beaten just two lengths, in the Grade 1 Alcibiades on Keeneland’s Polytrack.
The Bourbonette Oaks caps Turfway's stakes series for three-year-old fillies and is itself a prep for the Kentucky Oaks (G1). The Bourbonette Oaks is one of four stakes on the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (G3) undercard on March 26.