06/16/2007 12:00AM

Indian Vale shows her stuff

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Indian Vale entered Saturday's Grade 2, $327,600 Fleur de Lis Handicap as a mare hoping rejoin the ranks of the nation's best fillies and mares with a victory against top-level stakes competition.

Consider her task accomplished. In an impressive display of speed and courage, Indian Value turned back bids from Apple Blossom winner Ermine and Spinster winner Asi Siempre to win the Fleur de Lis by 1o1/2 lengths.

Unlike in the May 4 Louisville Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs, when Indian Vale struggled over sloppy footing and finished fourth, she was always comfortable Saturday. She tugged at jockey John Velazquez from the start, and raced two-wide in second through the first turn and down the backstretch.

There she remained for much of the 1 1/8-mile race, rated just off early leader Fiery Pursuit, who carved out moderate fractions of 23.81 and 47.32 seconds. Heading into the turn, she made her move, taking the lead with three quarters of a mile in 1:11.18.

There were no breathers to come. Soon after she launched her bid, Ermine ranged alongside to challenge her. Then in the stretch, as Ermine grew tired from her bid on the far turn, Indian Vale was able to outlast the rallies of Asi Siempre and Kettleoneup.

"She could feel the other horses outside of her, and she went right on," said Velazquez

The winner, a 5-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Melnyk Racing Stables, raced 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.12. She paid $7.20 as the third choice in the field of seven.

Asi Siempre closed from sixth to grab second, a neck in front of third-place Kettleoneup, who appeared to flatten out in the final 70 yards after appearing poised to challenge the winner inside the eighth pole.

Ermine, Rolling Sea, Fiery Pursuit, and Baghdaria - who was pulled up and vanned off the racetrack - completed the order of finish.

The Fleur de Lis was Indian Vale's most significant victory since she won the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs in late 2005. Considered one of the top 3-year-old fillies of that year, she made just one start as a 4-year-old, running fifth in the Shuvee Handicap.

Off for 10 months, she returned with a victory in the Grade 3 Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct in late March. That race preceded her fourth-place finish in the Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Pletcher said Indian Vale would race next in either the July 28 Go for Wand at Saratoga or the July 15 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park.