James Jackson's Valhol is being prepared for a start in the April 27 Texas Mile (gr. III) at Lone Star Park. Since finishing a disappointing eighth in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II), the 6-year-old gelded son of Diazo has been sidelined with a foot ailment.
"We had some problems with his left-front foot in the New Orleans Handicap," trainer Dallas Keen said. "We'll get some blood work done over the next couple of days and just keep up on how his feet are coming. Sometimes there's heat in his foot and we've had some complications from that, like his last race. We had him shoed the other day and you could see a lot of trauma to the foot. But, you know, I'm not going to run him if he's not right."
A win in the event would give Valhol his first graded stakes win and his first stake win at any track other than the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. He did win the grade II Arkansas Derby on the track, but was later disqualified when it was alleged that jockey Billy Patin possessed an illegal electrical device, also known as a "buzzer," in the 4 1/2-length victory. Since then, Valhol earned his first career win in a Lone Star allowance race, a Delaware Park allowance race, and three listed stakes at the Fair Grounds.
Valhol worked five furlongs Tuesday, getting the distance in 1:02 4/5 on a fast track. Should he enter the Texas Mile, Valhol will go into the race off an eight-week layoff, which doesn't concern Keen.
"He was out nine months and came back to win the Tenacious Handicap against some really nice horses," the conditioner said. "Then he won the Whirlaway, where the sixth place horse won a grade I his next start (Milwaukee Brew won the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap) and the second place horse ended up winning the New Orleans Handicap (Parade Leader)."
Valhol has won five of 17 starts for earnings of $380,350.