10/20/2009 12:00AM

Valley View split into two divisions


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Racing officials have opted to card two divisions of the Grade 3 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes on Friday, marking the first time since 1982 that a graded race has been split at Keeneland.

The purse for the Valley View, a 1 1/16-mile turf race that drew 25 3-year-old fillies, was supposed to be $150,000, but now each division will be worth $125,000. The Valley View will be run as races 7 and 9 on the 10-race Friday card.

"As entries started pushing 20, we naturally started discussing it," said Ben Huffman, racing secretary at Keeneland.

Rogers Beasley, director of racing at Keeneland, said the additional money being used from the track's general purse fund "is worth it, considering we didn't want to exclude so many horses."

"This was a rare opportunity, so we said, 'Let's make the effort,' " Beasley said.

Beasley said he had checked with the proper racing authorities about preserving the graded status for the Valley View for the 2009 runnings, "and we're fine there," although the race will be reviewed at year's end as per standard practice for all graded events.

The last time Keeneland split a stakes race was in 1999, when divisions of the Bryan Station - then an ungraded race for fillies and mares, and now a Grade 3 race for 3-year-olds - were run for $65,000 each. The last time a graded race was split was 1982, when El Baba and Rivalero won divisions of the Grade 3 Fayette Handicap (now the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes).

In the distant past, Keeneland has even split some of its biggest races, including the Ashland Stakes in 1980 and the Blue Grass Stakes in 1951.

As might be expected, both divisions of the Valley View on Friday look exceptionally deep and well matched. The favorites in the first division (12 entered) figure to be Rex Regina, Silver Reunion, Bluegrass Princess, and Project Rose, while the second division (13 entered) has Haka, Keertana, Aurora Lights, and Mother Russia as major contenders.

The Valley View was first run in 1991 and has been a Grade 3 race since 1999.

Full field expected for Raven Run

It won't get 25 entries, and it won't be split into divisions, but the maximum 14 starters are expected for Saturday in the Grade 2, $300,000 Raven Run Stakes, the biggest race of the week here.

Flashing, winner of the at Presque Isle Downs.

Other notable prospects for the Raven Run include Just Jenda, Jardin, Moontune Missy, Pretty Prolific, and War Kill.

Connie and Michael eyes Breeders' Cup

The flashy maiden win (and 93 Beyer Speed Figure) by the WinStar Farm colt American Lion here Sunday wasn't the only eye-catching performance by a 2-year-old last weekend at Keeneland. Connie and Michael, a first-time starter for trainer Ken McPeek, earned a 95 Beyer in leading throughout to win by 7 3/4 lengths.

McPeek said Connie and Michael, by Roman Ruler, will be considered for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, although whether she can make the 14-horse lineup without any graded earnings is questionable, he conceded. He said the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf also is a possibility.

"She's just so talented," he said.

McPeek added that Fist of Rage, a narrow winner of his career debut here Oct. 14, is under consideration for the BC Juvenile.

Also, McPeek has confirmed that Robby Albarado will have the mount back on Beautician when the filly runs Nov. 6 in the BC Juvenile Fillies. Albarado rode Beautician to win her career debut in June before Kent Desormeaux rode her in her next three races.