Breeders’ Cup Marathon (gr. II) winner Afleet Again is the headliner in the $150,000 Valedictory Stakes (Can-III) Dec. 4 at Woodbine, but for those looking for a better price there are at least a couple of reasons to look elsewhere.
A field of six was drawn for the 1 3/4-mile Valedictory, which offers grade III status for the first time. The Polytrack race is the feature of Woodbine’s 12–race Sunday card, with a probable post of 5:21 p.m. EST.
Kasey K Racing Stable’s Afleet Again broke a 13-race losing streak when he won the Nov. 5 BC Marathon by 2 1/4 lengths at Churchill Downs. But he will now try a synthetic surface for the first time in his 25th career start and will take on a couple of local horses. The most attractive of them may be Riverdee Stable’s Eagle Poise and Sam-Son Farms’ Eye of the Leopard, who ran one-two in a 1 5/8-mile allowance race on Nov. 11 and were the runner-ups of the last two editions of the Valedictory.
Afleet Again, based at Parx Racing for trainer Butch Reid, will once again be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez. He was a 41-1 outsider in the BC Marathon, which was his first win since the Withers (gr. III) back on April 24, 2010 at Aqueduct. The 4-year-old son of Afleet Alex has produced a 4-5-3 record from 24 races overall, for earnings of $686,470.
Eagle Poise broke an eight-race losing streak in his allowance win when defeating Eye of the Leopard by a neck. Prior to that he was sixth in the grade III Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland. In the 2009 Valedictory, he missed by a length to Cloudy’s Knight.
Trainer Graham Motion has assigned Patrick Husbands to ride the 5-year-old gelded son of Empire Maker, who has recorded all five of his lifetime victories at Woodbine.
Eye of the Leopard, winner of the 2009 Queen’s Plate, is winless in both starts this season. He missed by less than a length to Pool Play in the 2010 Valedictory. All four of his lifetime wins have come at Woodbine. Leader rider Luis Contreras will have the call for Mark Frostad.
Also entering off an allowance score at Woodbine is Bulldog Racing’s Alpha Bettor. The 3-year-old Alphabet Soup colt has made all 11 of his career starts at Woodbine, three of them wins. He pulled clear in the stretch to tally by three lengths in his Nov. 13 allowance race at odds of 9-1. He is trained by Daniel Vella.
Getta Rhythm, who has gone way off form lately, and Harrods Creek, the third-place finisher of the Nov. 5 Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct, complete the lineup.
$150,000 Valedictory Stakes (Can-III, Race 10, 5:21 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 3/4 Miles (Polytrack) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Alpha Bettor (KY), T Pizarro, 115, D J Vella
2. Eagle Poise (KY), P Husbands, 124, H G Motion
3. Afleet Again (KY), C H Velasquez, 119, R E Reid Jr.
4. Eye of the Leopard (ON), L Contreras, 115, M R Frostad
5. Harrods Creek (KY), C Sutherland, 117, W I Mott
6. Getta Rhythm (KY), J Stein, 115, M A Kendrick