by Sarah Mace
Switching to the inside at the top of the stretch and closing with determination under Joel Rosario, Waterville Lake Stable’s Miss Valentine (Afleet Alex) outdueled Beautiful But Blue in the final furlong to capture the $100,000 Princess Dixie overnight stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares at Belmont on Wednesday.
The winner of three stakes in her last four starts, including the No Reason in her 5-year-old debut on May 10, Miss Valentine came up oddly flat in her most recent start, the 7-furlong Dancing Renee on Big Apple Showcase Day. Returning to her preferred distance of a mile (at which she recorded five prior victories) and reunited with Joel Rosario (her pilot in the No Reason) the chestnut went off slightly favored over Broman homebred Beautiful But Blue at odds of nearly 5-2.
A mare who typically does her best work late, Miss Valentine settled even further back than usual, running next-to-last, 9 lengths off the pace set by longshot Carameaway, who had Beautiful But Blue in pursuit a length behind.
After sharp early splits (22.81, 45.64), Miss Valentine began to make up ground rapidly in the two path and advanced into third in the far turn. Meanwhile, Beautiful But Blue made a two-wide move in the turn to take over the lead.
At the top of the stretch Miss Valentine, angled decisively over to the rail, inched her way up and drew even with a game Beautiful But Blue just past the furlong marker. After gaining the advantage, she then edged away with determination in the final sixteenth to get the victory by a half-length. Lady On the Run, last early, closed to get the show. After three-quarters in 1:10.27, the final time for the mile was 1:37.16 over an upgraded “fast” main track.
Miss Valentine’s eighth stakes victory improves her record to 9-5-1 from 21 starts for trainer Christophe Clement and drives her earnings over the half-million dollar threshold to $ $535,500.
Miss Valentine has raced exclusively in stakes company since her second start when she won the Swirlaway at Aqueduct in November 2010. She has won six stakes in state-bred company and the Serena’s Song and Mom’s Command against open rivals. In 2011 she finished second in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks.
A Waterville Lake Stable homebred foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Miss Valentine is out of the multiple black type-placed Gilded Time mare Miss Yiayia ($175,970), who produced all winners from five foals to start. Miss Yiayia’s other six-figure earner is New York-bred Thunder Chief, by Thunder Gulch ($164,930).