06/19/2008 12:00AM

Rutherienne edge over Valbenny again


Ten months later and some 3,000 miles east, the top-shelf turf fillies Rutherienne and Valbenny will resume their rivalry.

Rutherienne, who beat Valbenny by two lengths in last year's Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, figures to be a slight favorite to duplicate the feat in Saturday's Grade 3, $200,000 All Along Breeders' Cup at Colonial Downs.

The 1 1/8-mile All Along, which drew a field of 10 older fillies and mares, heads three supporting stakes on a card highlighted by the Grade 3 Colonial Turf Cup.

Both Rutherienne, the 5-2 favorite on the track's morning line, and 7-2 second choice Valbenny are coming off third-place finishes.

The Christophe Clement-trained Rutherienne, 9 for 12 lifetime, finished behind Precious Kitten and Diamond Diva in the Grade 1 Gamely at Hollywood Park on May 26, her first trip to California since winning the Del Mar Oaks last August.

"She ran a very good race," said Clement "They went two-fifths of a second too fast. She ran very well. The first two were very impressive."

Rutherienne will be making the third start of her current form cycle, a strong statistical category for Clement, who is 6 for 15 (40 percent) with a $3.44 return on investment with fillies and mares in graded stakes in their third start off an extended layoff.

Clement said he feels the All Along should serve as a good stepping-stone to the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana at Saratoga on July 28.

"The competition in Virginia should be easier than what she's faced lately," he said. "I think it's a good prep for the Diana. It's a mile and an eighth and the timing is good."

Valbenny, who endured trouble when third of five in the Grade 3 Gallorette Handicap at Pimlico a month ago, will be making only her second start since September. Her trainer, Michael Matz, is a weak 1 for 26 with female turf runners making their second start off a long layoff.

Indescribable, J'ray, and Lady Digby all possess upset potential.

The 4-year-old Indescibable will be making her first start since being transferred to Bill Mott's barn. Her last three races have been on Polytrack, including a win in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron last time out. Mott does well with runners switching from synthetic to turf in graded stakes, winning the Just a Game with My Typhoon and the Transylvania with Marcavelly last year.

Lady Digby has not been worse than second in her last four starts, including a runner-up finish to the red-hot Dreaming of Anna in the Grade 3 Hillsborough at Tampa Bay and a close second to Roshani in the Gallorette, in which she finished 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Valbenny.

J'ray, a two-time Grade 3 winner in 2007, shortens up in distance and takes a slight class drop in search of her first win in five starts since taking the My Charmer Handicap at Calder in December.

* Smart and Fancy, beaten favorite in her season debut over a muddy main track, returns to the turf, where she is 2 for 3 lifetime, in the $60,000 Buckland (race 7). The 5 1/2-furlong sprint for fillies and mares also includes Ride Em Cowgirl, a consistent performer on grass and synthetic surfaces, who seeks her fourth win in a row.

* Scrappy T, runner-up to Afleet Alex in the 2005 Preakness, is scheduled to make his grass debut at 1 1/16 miles in the $35,000 Old Nelson Handicap (race 6).

- additional reporting by David Grening