Valiance Rallies in Slop to Take Eatontown Stakes
Moving off the turf proved to be no problem for Valiance, who won the $153,500 Eatontown Stakes Aug. 29 to improve her record at Monmouth Park to 3-for-3.
The 4-year-old Tapit filly trained by Todd Pletcher won an allowance race and the Open Mind Stakes—both 1 1/16 miles on the turf, as the Eatontown was originally scheduled for—during Monmouth’s 2019 meet. With weather moving Saturday’s feature from the turf to the sloppy main track, Valiance was undeterred by the surface switch as she rallied to a 1 1/2-length victory as the 4-5 favorite.
Valiance, owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Martin Schwartz, and China Horse Club, entered the Eatontown off a victory in an allowance optional claiming race July 28 at Colonial Downs.
Back at Monmouth, she raced close up on the inside in third under jockey Nik Juarez, who rode her the other two times she won at Monmouth.
“I really wasn’t concerned at all when it came off the grass and the track was sloppy,” Juarez said. “I got to ride a race on the dirt with her at Gulfstream (in the May 16 Powder Break Stakes). Todd had her in a stakes race in Florida, and it came off the grass and she ran on the dirt that day. So I was happy she had a dirt race under her because all of her other starts have been on the grass.”
Defending winner Valedictorian showed the way up front, setting fractions of :23.85, :47.68, and 1:12.60 through six furlongs. Gotham Gala pressed the pace. Valedictorian weakened in the homestretch and Valiance placed her head in front, running a mile in 1:37.87. Gotham Gala would not go away as easy, but Valiance dug in and rallied to reach the wire first. The final time was 1:44.25.
“I was really confident today. We had a perfect trip, sitting right behind the speed,” Juarez said. “When we turned for home, I was able to tip her out and she was much the best. She just ran away from them. I knew Valedictorian would go out for the lead. So I just wanted to wait with her and let her settle, and we were able to do just that.”
Third-place Valedictorian was 15 1/4 lengths behind runner-up Gotham Gala. Super Tigress and Repatriated Gem completed the order of finish. Half the entries were scratched.
The Eatontown was automatically downgraded from grade 3 to listed status for being moved off the turf. Grade 3 status for the race may be reinstated pending a review by the American Graded Stakes Committee.
Valiance was bred in Kentucky by China Horse Club out of Madison Stakes (G1) winner Last Full Measure, a daughter of Empire Maker and the Slewvescent mare Lazy Slusan, who was a two-time grade 1 winner. China Horse Club went to $1.5 million to buy Last Full Measure in foal to War Front from the Lane’s End consignment to the 2014 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale. The mare has a yearling filly by Mastery and was reported bred to Constitution for 2021.
Eclipse and Schwartz purchased Valiance, consigned by Bluewater Sales, for $650,000 at The Saratoga Sale, Fasig-Tipton’s select yearling sale in New York, in 2017. The filly has five wins from seven starts and has earned $229,575.