10/16/2001 11:00PM

Familiar foes rematched in Bryan Station


LEXINGTON, Ky. - They had two close encounters in May but since then have taken divergent paths. On Friday at Keeneland, Iftiraas meets up with Gino's Spirits in the $75,000 Bryan Station Stakes, a race that should prove an interesting rematch between the two grass runners.

Iftiraas, trained by Bill Mott, won the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile in front of a huge Kentucky Derby Day crowd on May 5, finishing a neck ahead of Gino's Spirits. Three weeks later, the pair raced together again at Lone Star Park, with Iftiraas finishing third and Gino's Spirits fourth.

In the meantime, both horses have raced three times, with each winning once, in a stakes. Gino's Spirits, coming off a triumph in the Kentucky Cup Ladies on Sept. 23, may have an edge in recency, although Iftiraas has been keeping tougher company, having finished unplaced in the Grade 2 Diana and the Grade 3 Violet in her latest starts.

Their similar career paths should have them vying for favoritism in a field of 10 in the Bryan Station, which goes at a mile on the grass.

Gino's Spirits, with Pat Day to ride, drew post 9 in the Bryan Station, which goes as the eighth of nine Friday races. Iftiraas drew post 4 with Larry Melancon.

There are several fringe contenders in the 10th running of the Bryan Station, including Watch and Star Queen.

Completing the field are Champs Elysees, Binalegend, La Bandolero, Elaine's Booboo, Except for Wanda, and Doubly Fun. Weight assignments range from 124 to 119 pounds.

Two allowance races also are carded for Friday, including a $59,000 turf route in which Saint Damien should prove tough to beat. Saint Damien, trained by Ken McPeek, finished fourth in his last two starts, the Grade 1 Secretariat and Grade 2 Ohio Derby.

'Vicki' gets the victory

Vicki Vallencourt, invading from Arlington, got a great stalking trip under Mark Guidry before going on to a 4 1/2-length victory Wednesday in the $80,625 Indian Summer Stakes.

Vicki Vallencourt, owned by Ricki and Ron Rashinki and trained by Hugh Robertson, paid $9.80 as co-second choice in the six-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies. Purple Princess, the 3-5 favorite, finished second, while late-running Lotta Rhythm was third in a field of five.

"She did everything right," Guidry said of Vicki Vallencourt, a Regal Classic filly who has won three of four starts.

The winning time of 1:11.88 was posted over a fast track.

As the ninth of 17 programs, Wednesday's card was the midway point of the fall meet.

No carryover - yet

The pick five wager, which this meet was implemented for the first time, has a carryover provision - not that it has been used. Through the first eight days of racing, the $1 wager had been hit every day, with payoffs ranging from $375.80 to $3,883.90.

In case no one has all five winners, the entire pool (minus the 16 percent takeout) carries over to the next day. There are no consolation payouts.

On Oct. 26, the last full day of racing at the meet, a mandatory payout will be in effect. If no ticket has all five winners, then the pool will be distributed among those who have the most winners. The last day of the meet is Oct. 27, but there will be only four live races that day, followed by the Breeders' Cup simulcasts.

Preserving the grade

Even though considerably more than the turf-course limit of 10 horses were expected to enter the $100,000 Valley View Stakes here Saturday, racing officials said it was highly doubtful the race would be split into two divisions.

Their reluctance to split the Grade 3 Valley View comes from a desire to preserve the race's graded status. Grades are assigned by the North American Graded Stakes Committee. One of the many criteria for grading races is the ratio of graded stakes winners in a field. Larger fields tend to be diluted with non-graded winners, thus weakening the race in that regard.

So the Valley View, for 3-year-old fillies, most likely will be run with a field of 10, rather than in two divisions totaling as many as 20 starters. Among the many probables for the 1 1/16-mile race is Kiss the Devil, recent runner-up to Snow Dance in the Pucker Up Stakes.

Conversely, there should be no worries about over-filling the Sunday feature, the $100,000, Grade 3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes. Miss Seffens figures as a solid favorite in the six-furlong race over Another, Cat Cay, Rose Frances, and maybe a few other fillies or mares.