03/31/2007 12:00AM

Indian Vale romps in Next Move

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Last year, a Todd Pletcher-trained mare made her 5-year-old debut with an easy victory in the Grade 3 Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct. Ten months later, that mare, Fleet Indian, was crowned champion.

Could history be ready to repeat itself?

On Saturday, the Pletcher-trained Indian Vale made her 5-year-old debut with a ridiculously easy 5 1/2-length victory in the Grade 3, $104,800 Next Move at Aqueduct. If she remains healthy, there is little doubt Indian Vale could contend for championship honors in the older filly and mare division.

Making her first start in 10 months, Indian Vale cruised to an easy lead under Mike Luzzi, carved out modest fractions of 23.99 seconds, 48.36 and 1:12.92 before turning back a challenge from A True Pussycat in upper stretch. Though she switched her leads back and forth in the final furlong, Indian Vale won handily, covering the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.51 over a fast inner track. She returned $3 as the favorite.

A True Pussycat finished second by 8 1/4 lengths over Daytime Promise. Dina and Lexi Star completed the order of finish. Rahys' Appeal was scratched to run in next Saturday's Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

The Next Move was the sixth victory in eight career starts for Indian Vale, a daughter of Grade 1 winners A.P. Indy and Marley Vale owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk. It was her first start since finishing last in last May's Shuvee Handicap, a race from which she emerged with an ankle injury.

"Coming back off a layoff, when you have high regards for a filly like this, you would like her to come back and show what she's done in the past," said Seth Benzel, Pletcher's New York assistant. Luzzi, said Penzel, "didn't think she was getting out, but she switched to her left lead. She's done that in the past - it's not something that is new for her."

Said Luzzi, "I just think she was playing around and was a little bored. Then, she went back to her right, which is a really good sign."

The Grade 3, $250,000 Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne on April 21 or the Grade 2, $300,000 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 4 could be next for Indian Vale.