Waterville Lake Stable’s homebred Miss Valentine was all heart winning the $60,000 open Mom’s Command Stakes for thee-year-old fillies at Belmont on Wednesday, getting the decision by a head bob over a determined Draw It after a nip and tuck duel in the final furlong.
Making her sixth start of the year and ninth start lifetime for trainer Christophe Clement in the one-mile Mom’s Command, Miss Valentine appeared to be in peak form going in. The chestnut daughter of Afleet Alex was last seen finishing second in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks on August 13. This followed directly on the heels of an impressive three-length victory in the Serena’s Song at Monmouth on July 16. Miss Valentine’s most recent workout prior to Wednesday’s race was a four-furlong bullet in 47 seconds flat at Belmont on September 18, the best of 56 at the distance that day.
Longshot Offlee Wicked was off well after the break from post five, and went for lead tracked to her outside by Shared Heart. As Offlee Wicked set the early fractions of 23.02 and 46.48, the stretch-running Miss Valentine, post time favorite at odds of 6-5 under Jose Lezcano, cruised along last of six under a firm hold, six lengths off the lead and just behind fellow closer Draw It.
Through the turn Miss Valentine came off the rail into the three path and, following the lead of Draw It, started passing horses, eventually coming out four wide. At the quarter pole four fillies were virtually on even terms: Offlee Wicked, Shared Heart, Draw It and, widest of all, Miss Valentine.
By the final furlong Draw It and Miss Valentine had emerged as the top two contenders, racing in close quarters. Miss Valentine stuck a head in front around the furlong marker, but Draw It came again and took over, leading now by a neck. Miss Valentine, not to be denied, dug in, crept back up on even terms with Draw It and just got her nose down on the line for the win. Shared Heart finished third 3 1/2 lengths further back. After three-quarters run in 1:11.56, the final time for the mile over the fast Belmont track was 1:36.83. [VIDEO]
Only once out of the exacta in nine careers starts, Miss Valentine’s third stakes victory – which she can now add to the open Serena’s Song and restricted Swirlaway Stakes – brings her career record to 4-4-0 and increased her purse earnings to $220,800. Going from success to success ever since her debut victory at Belmont last October, she has also finished second in Aqueduct’s East View in December, and Wandering Cloud and Bouwerie, both this past June at Belmont, in addition to her runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks.
Miss Valentine is one of five winners, and first stakes-winner, of five foals to start out of the multiple black type-placed Gilded Time mare Miss Yiayia ($175,970). After racing for five seasons, Miss Yiayia was purchased in 2001 by Winter Quarter Farm (agent) for $195,000 at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock sale. She changed hands again in 2009, at the Keeneland January Sale, selling to David J. Fiske (agent) for $10,000.
Two more of Miss Yiayia’s winners are also New York-breds: More Oats Please, by Smart Strike ($83,817) and Thunder Chief by Thunder Gulch ($148,903). Her Kentucky-bred juvenile Leading to Win (Easing Along) recently broke his maiden in Canada.
Miss Valentine was foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains.