10/15/2008 11:00PM

Turf skill a question for Acoma


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Dreaming of Liz and Acoma are the only two graded stakes winners among a full field of 3-year-old fillies running Friday in the Grade 3 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes, but neither has shown much over turf.

But while Dreaming of Liz already has run two decidedly subpar races on grass, Acoma will be making her turf debut in the $150,000 Valley View, a 1 1/16-mile race that anchors a 10-race card at Keeneland.

"We thought she handled the grass very well in her work here the other day," said David Carroll, who trains the homebred Acoma for the mother-daughter team of Helen Groves and Helen Alexander. "Of course, how they breeze and how they run can be different things."

And therein lies the rub in what shapes up as a highly competitive 18th running of the Valley View, which in recent years has been won by such standouts as Bedanken (2002) and Asi Siempre (2005). Acoma, partly on the strength of her victory last spring in the Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs, could be a slight favorite, although maybe another half-dozen of her rivals have shown enough to merit nearly equal consideration.

Scolara, Tight Precision, Clear Pond, Much Obliged, Miss Challenge, and Forest Trail all sport solid credentials. Of those, Miss Challenge, winner of a Sept. 21 overnight stakes on the Belmont Park turf, might present the strongest threat.

Absolutely Cindy, the lone also-eligible among the 13 fillies entered, is expected to scratch in favor of the Raven Run Stakes on Saturday.

As for Acoma, a royally bred daughter of Empire Maker, her Oct. 6 work over the Keeneland turf came in a slow 1:04 with Julien Leparoux aboard.

"We just wanted to see how she moved," said Carroll. "She's got the pedigree for the grass, and she won a maiden race over Polytrack. We're under no pressure, because if she doesn't run well we can always go back to the dirt or Poly.

"We're very happy with how she's training. This summer she kind of lost her way a little, but since we've been back at Keeneland the last few weeks, she has really gotten good again."

The Valley View is part of the late pick four, which carries a guaranteed pool of $200,000 every Friday. All pick-four wagers at Keeneland are available in 50-cent increments.