11/30/2012 4:14PM

Aqueduct: Miss Valentine shortens up for Clement


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Though trainer Christophe Clement has sent the bulk of his stable to south Florida for the winter, he left a few horses behind to race at Aqueduct before racing on this circuit moves to the inner track on Dec. 12.

Arguably the best of that group is Miss Valentine, who figures a strong favorite in Sunday’s $75,000 Lottsa Talc Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares at six furlongs. With only five runners, the Lottsa Talc goes as race 3 on the nine-race program.

Though Miss Valentine is probably more effective at seven furlongs or a mile, Clement feels the filly is doing well enough to run her at this distance. Miss Valentine won her career debut at six furlongs in 2010. She is 3 for 4 over Aqueduct’s main track, including a 1 1/4-length score in a one-mile overnight stakes for New York-breds here Nov. 16. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides from the rail.

“We believe she’s more of a seven-eighths filly, but it’s a short field, let’s take a shot,” Clement said by phone from Florida. “If there’s enough pace, she should be all right.”

That’s the rub. With only five horses in the field, there doesn’t seem to be a ton of early speed. Freud’s Notebook, who makes her first start off the claim for trainer Mitch Friedman, could set the pace. Great Gracie Dance, who came from five lengths back to win a six-furlong race here Nov. 15 has shown speed in the past. She is making her first start off the Bruce Levine claim.

Lady On the Run, who figures to be the second choice, is another who needs pace. Looking at the field, trainer John Morrison is concerned whether there will be enough speed to set things up for his stakes-winning filly.

“That always seems to be our issue,” Morrison said. “When you got a horse with her running style that comes from behind, you’re always at the mercy of what goes on up front. She’s well; we’ll hope to get some pace and see what happens.”

Lady On the Run comes off a second-place finish to Sunny Desert, trained by John Parisella, in a division of the New York Stallion Stakes. It was Sunny Desert’s fifth consecutive victory Nov. 14.

“We ran our race. I just think John’s filly outran us that day,” Morrison said.

Mike Luzzi rides Lady On the Run from post 4.

Jitney, third behind Sunny Desert and Lady On The Run and winless in three dirt starts, completes the compact field.