06/23/2004 11:00PM

'Fortunate' Team Valor's latest buy


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Team Valor president Barry Irwin has had lots of success buying young Canadian racing prospects over the years. The list includes 2-year-old champions Added Edge and Free at Last, and stakes winners Maple Syrple and Demaloot Demashoot.

Team Valor's latest local purchase is Fortunate Trip, who should be well backed in Saturday's $139,875 Victoria Stakes, a five-furlong dash for 2-year-olds at Woodbine.

Team Valor bought Fortunate Trip from Kuehne Racing and trainer Mike Mareina shortly after Fortunate Trip won his May 9 debut by four lengths. A son of Fortunate Prospect, Fortunate Trip ran 4 1/2 furlongs over a sloppy track in 51.60 seconds, which earned him a Beyer Speed Figure of 76.

Irwin said he had several reasons for making the purchase.

"I thought he was a good mover," Irwin said. "He looks like the kind of horse who's a real athlete. He ran extremely fast. At the time, he had the fastest Ragozin number by a 2-year-old in [North America] this year."

Fortunate Trip has been working regularly over Saratoga's deep training track since he won his maiden. He breezed a half-mile in 53.80 seconds there last Sunday and is in good shape, according to Irwin.

"If he does well in the Victoria, our plan is to bring him back to Saratoga and try him in the stakes there," Irwin said.

Mark Casse, who guided Added Edge through an unbeaten 2-year-old campaign in 2002 for Team Valor and Robert Wilson, is Fortunate Trip's new trainer.

Casse's other runner in the 10-horse Victoria field is first-time starter Sir Laff Alot, a Kentucky-bred by General Royal.

"I like him a lot," Casse said. "He's a beautiful horse. I bought him for Harvey Schwartz last year. He performed well in Florida, and he's done really well here, too. We're excited about him."

Casse said Sir Laff Alot worked a brilliant five-eighths last Saturday in company with 5-year-old The Judge Sez Who, a Grade 3 stakes winner of $913,436.

"He went in a minute and change," Casse said. "He just played with The Judge Sez Who."

Casse won the 2001 Victoria with first-timer Expected Hour and took last year's renewal by disqualification with Third Day.

Trainer Todd Pletcher nominated two unbeaten runners to the Victoria, but only entered Flamenco. A Florida-bred colt by Dance Master, Flamenco won a five-furlong maiden special over a sloppy Belmont track by three lengths May 28. His time of 58.40 was good for a 76 Beyer.