10/30/2017 1:16PM

Valadorna returns from injury in allowance route

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Emily Shields
Valadorna (No. 3) finishes second in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Although it will be another year before Breeders’ Cup horses converge en masse upon Churchill Downs, the event’s 2018 host site, Wednesday’s card at Churchill offers a bit of a taste of the Breeders’ Cup due to the presence of 2016 Juvenile Fillies runner-up Valadorna in the ninth race, a $65,000, second-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

Wednesday’s race marks the first for Valadorna since she was third behind Farrell and Majestic Quality in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds on Feb. 25, a layoff caused by a condylar fracture to her left hind leg sustained while training for the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland in the spring. And though she has trained well leading up to her return, this comeback race is no gimme, having drawn a large field, including a number of more experienced, older mares.

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Valadorna also didn’t get any help at the draw, landing post 11 of 12, putting her at risk of a wide trip with a short run to the first turn.

“This is probably a bit of a tall task first time back,” trainer Mark Casse said.

Regardless, she will be heavily favored to win, particularly if both she and Mannerly, who shares common ownership, race as part of an entry. The coupled fillies, owned by Stonestreet Stables, were installed at 6-5 odds on the morning line.

Brian Hernandez Jr. rides Valadorna, who was beaten only three-quarters of a length by Champagne Room in the Juvenile Fillies last year.

KEY CONTENDERS

Toasted, by Successful Appeal
Last 3 Beyers: 77-76-62

◗ A late-charging winner at Churchill Downs in the spring, she enters this race in top form, having run second in two consecutive tries at the class level, first at Churchill on Sept. 15 and then at Keeneland on Oct. 8.

It’s a Journey, by Jump Start
Last 3 Beyers: 76-74-67

◗ One of four fillies or mares racing for the optional $62,500 claiming price, she is among the most consistent entrants, having hit the board in 9 of 12 dirt races going a mile or longer. She captured an optional claimer at Indiana Grand on Oct. 6, defeating Vieja Luna and Bay of Puck.

Valadorna, by Curlin
Last 3 Beyers: 78-82-76

◗ She has fired three bullets over the past two months in workouts at Churchill Downs and Keeneland after getting her initial training started at Stonestreet Farm following her spring/summer break from injury. The latest came Oct. 21, when she breezed five furlongs at Keeneland in 59.60 seconds, the fastest of 23 that morning at the distance.

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