10/17/2012 4:09PM

Keeneland: Pianist strongest contender in split Valley View

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
The 3-year-old filly Pianist brings the best credentials into the second division of Friday's Valley View.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Where do they all come from? Just six days after some of the continent’s best 3-year-old turf fillies competed at Keeneland in a Grade 1 event, no fewer than two dozen fillies of only slightly lesser quality will be here Friday in split divisions of the Grade 3 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes.

Chad Brown, the youthful New York trainer who won the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup here last Saturday with Dayatthespa for his fourth turf-stakes victory in a seven-day span, has the most well-regarded horse in either lineup in Pianist, the 9-5 morning-line choice in the $125,000 second division (race 9). Conversely, the $125,000 first division (race 7) has no clear-cut favorite, with the morning-line favorite tabbed at 4-1.

Pianist has emerged as another potential Brown star after earning a 95 Beyer Speed Figure – the highest for a horse in either division – when capturing a small stakes on Sept. 20 at Belmont Park. A daughter of More Than Ready, Pianist has been favored in all five career starts and has come through in three of those.

“She has been training very well, and trying her in a graded race seems like the next logical thing to do,” said Brown.

[KEENELAND: Get PPs, watch Friday's card live]

Pianist, with Javier Castellano to ride, was assigned post 4 in her split of the Valley View, which is run at 1 1/16 miles. Perhaps her main challenger will prove to be Leading Astray (post 9, Eddie Perez), a rallying winner of the Grade 3 Pucker Up on the Arlington turf in her latest start.

Other logical players in the second division include Miz Ida, a drawing-off winner of the Kentucky Downs Ladies versus older rivals, and Welcome Dance, a speedy Michael Matz-trained filly who won two minor turf stakes this summer at Delaware Park.

Matz also has one of the contenders in the scrambled first division in Colonial Flag, whose best efforts include a runner-up finish to Centre Court in the Regret Stakes in June and a last-out victory in the Grade 3 Colleen at Woodbine. Colonial Flag was well-regarded enough to be just 3-1 in the Grade 1 American Oaks in California in July.

“She came out her race in Canada in good shape,” said Matz. “We did get an invitation to run in the QE II, but turned it down thinking the Valley View would be an easier spot. As many good fillies as they got, I’m not too sure about that, but here we are.”

Matz noted that Colonial Flag is a half-sister to Shared Account, who won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at age 5, “so we feel she’s going to mature a lot at 4.”

“She’s quite a big filly, and she’s filling out even more here in the latter part of the year,” Matz said.

Colonial Flag, with Joe Rocco Jr. to ride, will break from post 6 in the first division. Her main opposition could come from any of a number of fillies, including Medolina and Nayarra, the respective two-three finishers behind Pianist in that September race at Belmont, and Miss Cato, runner-up to Leading Astray in the Pucker Up.

This is the 22nd running of the Valley View. The race has been split in divisions once before, in 2009. The purse was supposed to be $150,000 as one race but went to $125,000 each after it was split.

Admission is free Friday for all students, faculty, and alumni at the University of Kentucky in recognition of the school’s homecoming weekend. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern, with the split divisions set for 4:17 and 5:21.