06/09/2007 12:00AM

Valbenny hits new high in Honeymoon


Valbenny overcame a spot of trouble to win her fourth stakes in the last eight months in Saturday's $154,750 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park.

The victory confirmed Valbenny's status as the leading 3-year-old turf filly in California as the division's top race of the year draws closer: the $750,000 American Oaks at 1 1/4 miles on turf on July 7.

Valbenny ($4) was hand-ridden through the stretch of the Grade 2 Honeymoon by jockey Alex Solis, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Super Freaky. Mystic Soul finished third in the field of seven 3-year-old fillies.

Valbenny ran the 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:48.17. Solis kept her on the inside for most of the race, stalking pacesetters Super Freaky and Passified, who set early fractions of 24.21 and 48.92 seconds.

Racing on the rail on the final turn, Valbenny had to wait for room briefly. Turning into the stretch, Solis guided Valbenny to the outside and quickly got a response. Valbenny rallied between fillies to draw alongside Super Freaky in the stretch.

With each stride, Valbenny closed ground on Super Freaky, and pulled clear in the final furlong.

Owned by a large partnership and trained by Paddy Gallagher, Valbenny has won 5 of 8 starts and $269,653. The Honeymoon is the most prestigious of her four stakes wins, which include the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes at a mile here last month.