05/02/2003 12:00AM

Coquettish seeks rebound in local return

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Although Coquettish most recently finished last, beaten nearly 14 lengths, as the heavy favorite in the April 26 Caesar's Wish Stakes at Pimlico, trainer Graham Motion is going ahead with plans to tackle Delaware Park's major stakes races for 3-year-old fillies.

Motion said he believes Coquettish did not like the muddy track in her last start and her chances were further compromised by a bent shoe on her right front foot.

"When we got back to the barn, we noticed her shoe was completely twisted and bent," Motion said. "For all I know, she could have run the whole race with her shoe like that, which obviously would have handicapped her. We had to pull the shoe off just so she could cool out because it was so awkward."

Jockey Mario Pino told Motion that Coquettish never really felt like she was comfortable and was unable to handle the mud.

"I thought that was fair enough," Motion said, "because she had never run on that kind of track before."

Motion said Coquettish deserves another chance and she will be pointed to the $75,000 Go for Wand Stakes May 31, the first prep toward the Grade 3, $500,000 Delaware Oaks July 19. She is also likely to run in the second stepping-stone to the Oaks, the $175,000 Susan's Girl Breeders' Cup June 28. All three stakes are at 1 1/16 miles.

Another stakes horse in Motion's barn, New Economy, will be pointed for the $150,000 Robert Dick Breeders' Cup, a 1 3/8-mile turf race she won last year, on the Delaware Oaks undercard. New Economy recently finished fifth, beaten four lengths, in the Grade 3, 1 1/2-mile Bewitch on Keeneland's turf course.

No more rating for Valenzo

Trainer Allen Iwinski has quickly scrapped an experiment of asking Valenzo to rate.

A 3-year-old son of You and I, Valenzo was highly regarded after finishing second in last fall's $100,000 Dover Stakes at one mile.

In late March at Gulfstream, Valenzo overcame a poor start to finish second in a seven-furlong allowance race, so Iwinski decided he might be effective coming from off the pace going two turns. Two weeks later, Valenzo wound up on the lead and then faded in the the $250,000, 1 1/16-mile Aventura Stakes.

In Valenzo's first start at Delaware this season April 27, in an allowance race at one mile, jockey Ramon Dominguez was instructed to allow his mount to relax off the pace and make a late run. Valenzo refused to cooperate, however, and finished seventh, beaten nearly 15 lengths, as the 7-5 favorite.

"We had been trying to get him to relax galloping around the racetrack and putting him behind other horses to let him sit back there," Iwinski said. "He was fine with that, so we thought that if we got him covered up in a race that he would turn the bit loose and just relax until he was asked to make his run."

Valenzo, however, had other ideas.

"Ramon said he was on the bit the whole way and the more he tried to grab him to get him back, the harder he fought with him," Iwinski said. "So, we're not going with that strategy again. We're just going to let him run his race. Ramon thinks that if we let him run away from there and kind of give him his head a little bit, the horse will relax on his own."

Valenzo, who has a win and two seconds in eight career starts, will get to run his own way sometime soon in a two-other-than allowance race.