02/24/2011 5:12PM

Angelica Zapata gets stamina test in Valdale Stakes


Stretching out to a route for the first time, Angelica Zapata gets tested for stamina in Saturday’s one-mile $50,000 Valdale Stakes over the Polytrack at Turfway.

Nor does the test end there. She will also have to deal with eight rivals, including two promising Southern shippers, New Orleans invader Maegans Princesses and south Florida shipper Harlan’s Ruby.

Both appear formidable, with Maegans Princesses making her first start since running eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and Harlan’s Ruby coming off a narrow maiden victory at Fair Grounds Jan. 28.

Despite their virtues, Angelica Zapata is the filly to beat in the Valdale. In addition to a stakes triumph at Turfway last month, in which she ran a race-best 77 Beyer Speed Figure, she was also third in the Gowell Stakes at Turfway in December, a start that followed a nose maiden win at Churchill Downs.

In terms of pedigree, signals are mixed regarding her staying potential. Angelica Zapata’s sire, Sharp Humor, was best sprinting, but her dam won going a marathon distance of 1 3/8 miles on turf.

Bloodlines aside, trainer Ron Pellegrini says he likes what he sees in Angelica Zapata’s training, suggesting to him she will handle the mile distance of the Valdale. But, he acknowledged, “What they do in the morning and what they do in the afternoon are two different things.”

One thing he can count on is that she will give her all. She showed as much when she won at Churchill Downs Nov. 20. Up in the final strides to win by a nose, she battled so hard that she had to be treated immediately after the race for heat exhaustion, Pellegrini said.

James Lopez rides Angelica Zapata, a 3-year-old filly owned by Herman Van Den Broeck.

In contrast to Angelica Zapata, Harlan’s Ruby has already proven herself going long. After winning a two-turn turf race at Saratoga last summer, she finished second in a slow running of the Grade 1 Alcibiades before finishing eighth behind Awesome Feather in the Breeders’ Cup Nov. 5.

She has not raced since, but has been training steadily at Palm Meadows Training Center in south Florida for trainer Ken McPeek.

Maegans Princesses, meanwhile, has run recently but has not raced beyond six furlongs. She is also untried on a synthetic surface, having made both of her starts on dirt at Fair Grounds this winter for trainer Steve Margolis.