05/13/2017 8:56PM

Lady Valeur delivers as heavy favorite in Golden Poppy

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Shane Miceli/Vassar Photography
Lady Valeur, with Ricardo Gonzalez aboard, wins the Golden Poppy by three-quarters of a length.

Odds-on favorite Lady Valeur returned dividends for her many backers as she proved superior in the $51,950 Golden Poppy Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday.

 The public had no problem identifying Lady Valeur, a 4-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Multiplex, as the one to beat in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares. And Lady Valeur seemed perfectly positioned all the way, showing her class and gameness in the end.

 She sat behind pacesetting My Heart Goes On, a multiple stakes winner from Emerald Downs who was making her turf debut. Lady Valeur easily moved up on her to take the lead at the quarter pole and My Heart Goes On quickly faded and was eased.

 Peach Cove, who had been sitting behind Lady Valeur, mounted the first challenge before Street Surrender, who had won three straight races and was making her stakes debut, came flying from midpack with a four-wide move, getting within a head of the favorite at the eighth pole.

Lady Valeur ($3.60) dug in and was inching clear late, winning by three-quarters of a length in 1:43.17. Sweet Dragon Fly was third, another 3 1/4 lengths back.

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 "She's a really nice filly," said winning jockey Ricardo Gonzalez, who also rode her to victory in the Miss America here last December in a race switched from the turf to the main track.

"On the turf, she steps it up way more," he said. "She got out of there really nice. I just sat behind the leader and made my run. The other horse [Street Surrender] was coming after her, but she was game. She kicked right back as soon as she got next to her."

 Lady Valeur, trained by Patrick Gallagher, earned $30,600 for owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. She has earned $248,778 with four wins in 13 starts.