05/07/2009 12:00AM

Valid Stripes back to restricted stakes


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Valid Stripes will get a nice dose of class relief Saturday when he returns to the restricted ranks for the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes. In his last start he ran in the $800,000 Sunland Park Derby, which produced the winners of this year's Kentucky Derby and Grade 2 Lexington.

The Stallion Stakes, for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, will support the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Derby. Also on the card is a second $125,000 division of the Stallion Stakes for

3-year-old fillies, which is led by Tiffany Royal.

Valid Stripes ventured to New Mexico for the Sunland Derby after winning the one-mile division of the Stallion Stakes at Retama Park. He raced a couple of lengths off a fast pace at Sunland and finished 12th in a rare off-the-board finish.

"He just didn't belong," said Amos Laborde, who trains Valid Stripes. "He's back now and doing good. I think he ought to run good. He'll be with the same bunch of horses he's run with before. There shouldn't be anything new with the way the race sets up, being a stallion stakes."

Valid Stripes has been tough in restricted company. He tracked the pace and went on to a 2 1/2-length win in his last stallion stakes appearance at Retama on Feb. 14. His other stakes win came last December in the $50,000 Groovy, a seven-furlong race for Texas-breds in which he romped by 11 lengths for a Beyer Speed Figure of 100.

Kirk LeBlanc has the mount on Valid Stripes, who will break from post 8.

"I think we'll be sitting off the pace, third or fourth," Laborde said. "We'll just see how everything goes."

A field of 12 is set, with owner Tom Durant sending out a four-horse entry and Heiligbrodt Racing bringing a three-horse entry.

Tiffany Royal, who won the six-furlong and one-mile divisions of the Stallion Stakes, tops the filly division for leading trainer Steve Asmussen.

* Will Rogers, which was forced to cancel its races May 2 because of heavy rain, has brought back two six-furlong stakes for Saturday, the $50,000 Route 66 and the $50,000 Wilma Mankiller. Rodeo's Castle is set to make his first start since last June in the Route 66. Annie Savoy comes into the Wilma Mankiller off a win in the $50,000 JEH Stallion Station Stakes at Lone Star.