Harlan's Ruby takes the Valdale at Turfway under Perry Ouzts.

Harlan's Ruby takes the Valdale at Turfway under Perry Ouzts.

Pat Lang

Harlan's Ruby Returns a Winner in Valdale

Harlan's Ruby made her 2011 debut a winning one in Turfway's Valdale Stakes Feb. 26.

Grade I-placed Harlan's Ruby made her 2011 debut a winning one with a victory in the $50,000 Valdale Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Feb. 26 at Turfway Park (VIDEO).

Owned by Marty Regan’s Shawnee Racing Stable, Harlan’s Ruby used the Valdale as a prep for the $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) March 26 at the Kentucky racetrack.

The Kentucky-bred daughter of Harlan's Holiday out of the Saint Ballado mare Smiling Eyes started from the outside post in a nine-horse field. She overcame early bumping to gain position under jockey Perry Ouzts, rallied on the far turn in the one-mile event, and drew away comfortably to win by 1 1/2 lengths on the Polytrack.

Harlan’s Ruby broke her maiden on the grass at Saratoga last summer, and returned to finish a rallying second behind Wickedly Perfect in the grade I Alcibiades Stakes on Polytrack at Keeneland in October. In her final start of 2010, Harlan’s Ruby finished eighth out of 12 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) on dirt at Churchill Downs.

“(The Bourbonette) has been our plan, if we were successful here,” said Michael Kleier, assistant to trainer Ken McPeek. “She has a lot of class, she has been in Florida training very forwardly, and she has had a lot of experience going long. We wanted to get a race on this track and felt confident about winning.”

After the early bump, Harlan’s Ruby got into her rhythm, Ouzts said. “She grabbed the bridle really good, and put me in a perfect position,” the jockey said. “I was only about a length or two off the lead (at the halfway point).”

Fractions for the Valdale were :24.56 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.52 for the half-mile, and 1:13.64 for six furlongs. Final time of 1:40.34 was on par for the Turfway Polytrack in the winter.

Harlan’s Ruby paid $6.40 to win as the favorite.

An impressive effort was turned in by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Kitten's Dancer, who rallied from far back under Irwin Rosendo to grab second, a head in front of Jelly Cable. The Mike Maker-trained Kentucky homebred daughter of Kitten's Joy  had made only one previous start in early December at Turfway.

In that event, a $20,000 maiden claimer at one mile, Kitten’s Dancer rallied from 11 lengths back at the first call to blow the field away by eight lengths in 1:40.14. She had since worked nicely at Turfway and seems poised for better things.