10/20/2001 12:00AM

Saturday Stakes Roundup


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.

- Marty McGee

Calder: Switch to dirt suits Western Pride

Heavy rains forced the $200,000 Calder Derby to be switched from the turf to the main track. The surface switch played right into the hands of Western Pride, who made a triumphant return to Miami by posting an easy five-length victory over Tour of the Cat.

The race would have had Grade 3 status if it had been contested on the grass as originally scheduled, but its graded status will now be reviewed by the National Graded Stakes Committee.

Western Pride has never run on the turf and took full advantage of the late change to lead throughout under regular rider Dana Whitney. Tour of the Cat, a versatile sort who finished second behind Thunder Blitz in the Grade 3 Flamingo Stakes earlier this year, was well placed while saving ground early, eased out to challenge the winner turning for home but proved no match through the stretch. Built Up finished a tiring third.

Strategic Partner, Boastful, Star Over the Bay, and Diablo Reigns were all scratched once the race was taken off the grass.

Western Pride needed six tries before finally earning his diploma at Calder in his 2000 finale. He improved dramatically upon leaving south Florida early last winter and entered the Calder Derby having won five of his last six starts, including the Grade 2 Ohio Derby in which he defeated reigning 2-year-old champion Macho Uno.

Western Pride paid a seemingly generous $5.20 despite coming into the race off a Grade 2 win. He covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.12 over a sloppy track.

"He's grown up and filled out since last December," said trainer Richard Estvanko. "Everything fell into place mentally and physically. He's a different horse. We really wanted to run him on the turf to see if he liked it because we'd like to run him in the Hollywood Derby."

Estvanko said the Grade 2 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23 is also an option.

- Mike Welsch

Arlington: Rylstone wins maiden in turf stakes

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - The handful of runners trainer Lynn Whiting has started at Arlington Park this year have, for the most part, performed poorly, many of them at short prices. That all changed when the longshot Rylstone won the $75,000 Manila Handicap by three lengths.

Rylstone, winless in his career, went off at

12-1 because he had failed to impress in a pair of Saratoga maiden races. But those races were dirt sprints and the Manila was a one-mile turf race, obviously much more to Rylstone's liking.

In a roughly run race, Rylstone stayed away from the worst trouble under jockey Eddie Razo, bursting into the clear turning for home and running down the Ohio-bred U S S Tinosa at about the furlong marker. Rylstone paid $26.60 to win and was timed in 1:39.60 over a course rated soft.

Runaway Choice bore out about four paths going into the first turn while on the lead, forcing the horses to his outside even wider and causing several horses just behind the lead group to check. U S S Tinosa, who broke from post 12, ended up fairly close to a quick pace and held on well to be second, 1 1/2 lengths in front of Jaha.

The favorite off a maiden turf win here, Jaha acted up in the starting gate, got away poorly and was steadied back to last on the first turn.

Rylstone's owner, Choctaw Racing Stable, paid $350,000 for the colt at a 2-year-old auction earlier this year. That was a huge price for an offspring of the unproven young sire Mecke, who stands in Florida.

- Marcus Hersh

Woodbine: Starbeau hangs on at 48-1

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Starbeau, a 48-1 shot ridden by Patrick Husbands, led most of the way to capture the $142,625 Bunty Lawless for Ontario-sired runners at Woodbine.

Starbeau ($99.60) dueled with Dance for Olga through fractions of 23.05 and 46.53 seconds while being stalked by Val de Dash in the one-mile turf race.

Starbeau established a slim lead at the three-eighths pole, and held off all comers in the stretch to prevail by a half-length over a closing Bristol Pistol. Val de Dash was another three-quarters of a length back in third, while favored Steady Ruckus was a non-threatening sixth in the 13-horse field.

The final time, over a course rated good, was 1:38.62.

"We decided to put him on the lead," said Mike Keogh, who trains Starbeau. "He got bogged down a little in his last race, and his best races have been when he's been close to the lead or right on it."

Starbeau earned $85,575 in his first stakes triumph for owner-breeder Gustav Schickedanz.

- Ron Gierkink

Delaware: Grundlefoot cruises

The last time Grundlefoot switched from turf to dirt, he produced a career-best 105 Beyer Speed Figure. A similar surface change produced a 2 3/4-length victory in the $75,000 Kelso Stakes at Delaware Park.

Coming off a third-place finish in a turf stakes at Pimlico, Grundlefoot ($12), ridden by Anthony Black, covered 1 3/16 miles in 2:01.76.

- Joe DeVivo