03/17/2015 11:35AM

Team Valor purchase Unrivaled confirms talent

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Unrivaled wins an allowance race by five lengths at Parx on Sunday.

Unrivaled took a successful first step for his new owner, Team Valor International, winning a first-level allowance at Parx Racing on Sunday by five lengths. The victory came on the heels of a 15-length Parx maiden score.

We will learn more about Unrivaled in his next race, which is likely to come April 4 in either the Blue Grass at Keeneland or the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

“I think we’re leaning to the Blue Grass,” said Barry Irwin, the founder and chief executive of Team Valor. “The trainer told me the horse wants to run on a tight track. We’re not going to cross out the Wood, but that track can get cuppy. I think Santa Anita and Keeneland are the type of tracks he wants.”

Although Unrivaled’s victory Sunday was for all practical purposes assured at the sixteenth pole, there were some anxious moments. After breaking fine in the 1 1/16-mile race, Unrivaled dropped back to last. He fell out of the simulcast video early on the backstretch and did not reappear until the leaders were nearing the stretch.

“I didn’t see the race in person,” Irwin said. “I sent somebody up and watched the replay. I have to say I was pretty nervous when he was not on the screen on the far turn, and then when he reappeared at the five-sixteenths pole, it just looked like there was no way that he could get there.”

Unrivaled was about six lengths back entering the stretch. Once he leveled off, he closed that gap quickly, taking the lead leaving the sixteenth pole and finishing in a gallop for jockey Frankie Pennington.

“He has a very, very long stride, but he’s still a little green,” Irwin said. “He wants to duck in a little bit.”

The purchase of Unrivaled from Waldorf Racing Stables was completed last week, and Irwin had said he would wait until after the Parx race before deciding who will train the horse going forward. He has decided to leave Unrivaled with trainer Marya Montoya, who is based at the Fair Hill Training Center and races primarily at Parx.

Montoya claimed the son of Super Saver and the Unbridled mare Safely for $30,000 out of a maiden race at Keeneland in October.

“Everything she has told me so far has come true,” Irwin said. “This horse has some idiosyncracies, and she and her husband, who works on the gate crew at Parx, have put a lot of work into him and know him. We’re going to leave him where he is, at least through the next race.”

Although Unrivaled was visually impressive Sunday, his effort is difficult to gauge because the track at Parx was listed as “good,” and times were dull throughout the card. He was given an 82 Beyer Speed Figure, markedly lower than the 92 he received for his maiden win.

His race went in 1:46.69, with a final 2 1/2 furlongs in 33.98 seconds. According to the Equibase chart, Unrivaled made up eight lengths in that span. He covered his final sixteenth in just under 6.58 seconds, which is not too shabby.

We’ll find out more about Unrivaled’s future shortly. He likely would have to finish first or second in the Blue Grass or Wood Memorial to earn enough qualifying points to make the Kentucky Derby field.

Team Valor won the 2011 Derby with Animal Kingdom, who was largely unknown before he won the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park in his start prior to the Kentucky Derby.