The Irish-bred daughter of Val Royal has now won three of her four U.S. starts for trainer Paddy Gallagher. She atoned for her sixth-place finish as the favorite in the Providencia (gr. IIIT) on the Santa Anita lawn in her most recent try last month. That effort was her first start of the year for the ownership partnership of Rita DiPietro, LGL Racing, Michael Rosenmayer, et al.
Gallagher said he is looking forward to a possible run in the $750,000 American Oaks, which is July 7 over the same course at 10 furlongs.
“She ran good, I think last time maybe she got tired a little bit but we had no excuses today,” Gallagher said. “There’s a couple races here we’re interested in, maybe we’ll run her in the Honeymoon (gr. IIT) and then hopefully in the Oaks.”
Well back early under Alex Solis, Valbenny made progress on the outside on the far turn. She angled out further in the stretch under left-handed urging to get the lead from pacesetting Passified and drew away late to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Providencia winner Super Freaky and Jon Court, who edged past the tiring Passified and Mike Smith in the late stages by 1 1/4 lengths.
Valbenny ran the mile on firm turf in a solid 1:34 2/5.
"The whole thing was to get her to relax and to save ground," Solis said. "At the five-sixteenths I thought I had the race won. Nobody was coming and I had so much horse. I worked her the other day and it really was incredible. I guess she wanted to redeem herself."
The British-bred Passified, second in the Providencia, carved fractions of :23 2/5, :47 1/5 and 1:10 4/5 while getting pressure from Seaside Affair before giving way grudgingly mid-stretch.
Valbenny has four victories in seven lifetimes starts with earnings of $186,733 after collecting the winning share of $66,960.
The winner paid $6.40, $3.60, and $2.40. Super Freaky returned $3.80 and $3, completing a $24.60 exacta. Passified was $3 to show.
"I thought Super Freaky ran real game," said Doug O'Neill, trainer of the runner-up. "She just got out punched. Paddy’s filly ran dynamite.”
Seaside Affair finished fourth, followed by Macadamia, Courtwood, Big Bertha, and Honnete. Mpumalanga, Adoradora, My Little Margie and Forest Huntress scratched.
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