Valhol Registers First Official Stakes Win

From Fair Grounds
Valhol finally got redemption and a stakes win the courts can't take away. In a much-maligned career that began at Fair Grounds less than two years ago, Valhol pranced to the winner's circle after a victory in the $75,000 Diplomat Way Handicap on Sunday.

After a well documented win then disqualification in the 1999 Arkansas Derby in only his third career start, the strapping 5-year-old chestnut has been plagued by physical ailments.

He placed in three subsequent stakes, including a game second-place finish off a layoff in the Louisiana Handicap on Dec. 30.

Trainer Dallas Keen was pleased with his colt's effort.

"He's always been a great horse," Keen said. "In the race, they did a good job of trying not to let him get through, but (jockey) Donnie (Meche) had tons of horse and got the job done."

Owned by James Jackson, Valhol seemed to have this group at his mercy. Valhol stalked the early leaders, bulled his way through horses in mid-stretch and won going away by 1 1/4 lengths.

"I got a little boxed between horses into the stretch, but when the leader rebroke, my horse spotted daylight and just took off," said Meche.

Valhol paid $3.60 to win as the odds-on favorite after covering 1 1/16 miles on fast track in 1:44 2-5. Frazee's Folly finished second, four lengths ahead of Miner's Prize.

With the victory, Valhol improved to three wins in 12 career starts, with earnings of $197,100.

(Chart, Equibase)