01/11/2017 12:36PM

Valid's new owner plans spring comeback at Fonner Park

Barbara D. Livingston
The 7-year-old Valid sold to Tom Thurman for $15,000 at Keeneland's January sale.

Grade 2 winner Valid could make his return from a year-plus layoff in the $75,000 Bosselman/Gus Fonner Stakes at Fonner Park on April 29 after selling to owner Tom Thurman for $15,000 on Monday at the Keeneland January horses of all ages sale.

Fonner’s signature race would be the 7-year-old Valid’s first start since winning the Grade 3 Skip Away Stakes at Gulfstream Park on April 2, 2016.

Valid was headed toward his strongest campaign yet in 2016, having also finished second in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, before a tendon injury in his right front leg sidelined him for the rest of the year.

“It’s going to take a little bit to get him back,” said Stacey Rushton, who signed the ticket for Thurman and will train the gelded son of Medaglia d’Oro. “With a horse like him, you don’t have to really push anything. You just find the spots that look good to him, and he’s going to run.

“That’s the good thing about him, you’re not buying an unknown like a 2-year-old,” Rushton added. “You know what he’s going to do, so we’ve got to do our best to get him fit and ready to go and take care of him, and get him primed up for the summertime.”

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Rushton said the long-term goal was a summer stakes campaign at Arapahoe Park, and then to Zia Park for the second half of the year. If he exceeds expectations, Valid could ship to other handicap-division stakes races across the Midwest.

Valid was previously owned by Carolyn Vogel’s Crossed Sabres Farm and was trained by Marcus Vitali. He has won 12 of 37 starts for earnings of $1,201,647, highlighted by wins in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup Stakes and three Grade 3 scores.

“[Thurman] talked to the previous owner on the phone, and they had a good conversation,” Rushton said. “He said, ‘I’ll take care of him for the rest of his life, ma’am. You’re never going to have to worry about him going through a sale. He’ll stay with me.’”

Valid was bred in Virginia by the late Edward P. Evans, and was the second-most expensive yearling from the breeder’s dispersal at the 2011 Keeneland September sale, going to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum for $500,000.

After winning one of his first six starts, he sold to Vogel as a 3-year-old for $115,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale. All 19 of his stakes wins or placings came for Vogel and after being gelded.

Rushton said he was unsure how much Valid would command on Monday, but he and Thurman agreed to bid up to $25,000 if needed.

“When we looked at him, I said, ‘I don’t think we’ll be able to afford him,’” Rushton said, “but I got to thinking, ‘Well, he’s got a little injury there, he’s been off quite a while.’ Most people want something that can go right now. They don’t want to take the time and have the patience to get him back going again.”