Slew Valley Slays Wando in King Edward

(from Woodbine report)
Slew Valley, expertly ridden by Jim McAleney, collared Shoal Water in the final sixteenth and outfought his rival to the wire, scoring a neck victory in Saturday's $324,300 King Edward Breeders' Cup (Can-II) on the Woodbine turf.

The result was a shocker, not so much for the victory by recent Connaught Cup winner Slew Valley, but for the fourth-place finish by Wando, Canada's reigning Horse of the Year.

Slew Valley got the distance in 1:48.42.

"We had a garden trip with decent speed fractions in front of us," said McAleney. "This horse settled so well. He's just got guts and class. He's a good horse, period. I think he's going to be effective at any distance and the further we go, he's going to be more effective."

Sent postward the 4-5 favorite, Wando and jockey Patrick Husbands went right to the front in the 1 1/8-mile and one-eighth contest over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course. However, the 4-year-old Triple Crown-winning chestnut son of Langfuhr  was dogged the entire way by Sam-Son Farm's Shoal Water and rider Todd Kabel through quick fractions, :46.45 for a half-mile, 1:10.16 for three-quarters.

When the compact field of five turned for home, Shoal Water pressured to Wando's inside along the rail. Slew Valley and McAleney, a comfortable third but never more than a few lengths off the leaders for most of the trip, moved outside for the long stretch run.

As Wando began to tire around the eighth pole, after the mile was reached in 1:35.31, Shoal Water took command but could not hold off the charge by the 7-year-old son of Valley Crossing. Meanwhile, Surging River, another Sam-Son runner, came on late to outnod Wando for the show spot.

A recent addition to trainer Reade Baker's stable, Slew Valley now has won back-to-back stakes at Woodbine. He tallied by nose over Le Cinquieme Essai in the 1 1/16-mile Connaught Cup May 30, a race where Shoal Water had the lead until giving it up late in finishing third.

"He's a big, tough horse. I think he'll be a better horse later on," said Baker. "It (today's pace) was just a perfect set-up. We knew it was going to take a really good horse to beat him. He loves Woodbine. He's a very versatile, good horse. I'm thrilled to have a chance to train a horse like this."

Owned by Rich Meadow Farm and Alan Burkhard, Slew Valley was shipped to Baker in early May from New York for a planned summer and fall campaign on the lawn.

It was his third win in six starts this year after going winless in nine outings in 2003. With the winner's share of $194,580 his career bankroll is now just over $760,000.

As the 4-1 third choice, Slew Valley returned $10.60, $5.80 and $3.90, combining with Shoal Water ($5.50, $4.80) for a $48.10 (3-1) exacta. Surging River paid $7.00 to show.

(Chart, Equibase)