05/19/2006 12:00AM

Return of Indian Vale

Four-Footed Fotos
Indian Vale earned a 109 Beyer for winning the Falls City at Churchill Downs last November.

ELMONT, N.Y. - She has not run in six months, returns at a distance shorter than her best, and faces the champion 3-year-old filly of 2005 as well as the second-best juvenile filly of 2004. But on Sunday, none of that may count for much when Indian Vale returns for her first start at 4 and rules a prohibitive favorite over Smuggler, Balletto, and two others in the Grade 2, $150,000 Shuvee Handicap for fillies and mares.

Also entered in the one-mile Shuvee were Grecian Lover, a close second in the recent Bed o' Roses Handicap for four-time Shuvee winner Allen Jerkens, and Take D' Tour, a Florida shipper who is a perfect 4 for 4 at the distance and is expected to set the early pace.

Bettors will have little trouble pegging as the swiftest of the field based on 5 victories from 6 starts last year by a combined 41 lengths, finished off with a dazzling triumph at Churchill Downs in the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap. Indian Vale received a Beyer Speed Figure of 109 for the Falls City, the fastest race by any filly or mare router in 2005. It slightly bettered the figure of her third career start, a 108 at Saratoga.

"I felt she was the best 3-year-old filly last year," said Todd Pletcher, who trains Indian Vale. "She obviously came into her own going two turns at a mile and an eighth, so the distance would be my concern. We're starting fresh and getting her ready for the summer and fall. That's been the plan all along."

returned from a nine-month layoff in the Bed o' Roses, but trailed throughout under showery conditions on a freshly sealed track. It was the first time the dual Grade 1 winner had finished worse than second. She is trained by Shug McGaughey, whose four Shuvee wins include one with Smuggler's dam, Inside Information.

"I've kind of gotten into her since she ran," said McGaughey. "I think she is doing fine, although I don't think she should be giving Indian Vale three pounds."

, second in the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, became the first horse bred in the United Arab Emirates to win a Grade 1 race in the U.S. when she won the Frizette here. She colicked while training for her return last spring, prompting her connections to announce her retirement, but returned to training last fall. She finished a distant fourth behind Take D' Tour in her recent comeback at Gulfstream Park.