10/20/2001 12:00AM

Keeneland: Valley View lived up to its billing


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The pre-race wagering for the $113,600 Valley View Stakes at Keeneland suggested the Grade 3 turf race was going to be close. In a field of 10 3-year-old fillies, Sluice was a tepid 5-2 favorite, followed by a major cluster in the 5-1 to 10-1 range.

But hardly anyone could have predicted it would have been this close.

Cozzy Corner and Chausson Poire finished in a dead heat for first, giving a symbolic conclusion to a race that seemed to thoroughly vex an ontrack crowd of 20,811 and thousands of off-track bettors.

"I actually thought my horse had her head down on the wire," said Russell Woolsey, a veteran jockey on the Tampa and Delaware circuit who rode Chausson Poire. "But we'll take this."

Sky Alliance led early in the Valley View, a 1 1/16-mile turf race, followed closely by La Recherche. Entering the stretch, Cozzy Corner, ridden by Lonnie Meche, made a big outside move to draw off to an imposing lead, but Chausson Poire was able to draw even on the wire. Quick Tip finished third, only a neck back.

Cozzy Corner, a 7-1 shot trained by Pat Kelly, returned $7.80 to win, while Chausson Poire, a 6-1 shot trained by Duane Knipe, paid $7. The final time was 1:42.93 over firm course.

The dead heat for win was the fourth in Keeneland stakes history, following the 1983 Fayette, 1992 Ben Ali, and 1997 Beaumont.