08/11/2004 11:00PM

'Vicky' outsider this time


As the defending champion in Saturday's $100,000 Ellis Park Breeders' Cup, Vicki Vallencourt would seemingly deserve to be the favorite. But with more puzzling races than victories in her past performances, she will start as somewhat of an outsider when she faces Golden Marlin, Tina Bull, and a strong cast of other female sprinters in the 6 1/2-furlong race.

Vicki Vallencourt, a 5-year-old daughter of Regal Classic owned by Ron and Ricki Rashinski, has been unplaced in her last four stakes races and in two of her last four allowances - efforts trainer Eddie Kenneally attributes to poor racing luck.

"She's doing as well as she was last year," he said.

She was unfortunate in her latest, when she was disqualified from first and placed second by the stewards for bumping Souris a few jumps before the wire of an optional claiming race at Churchill Downs July 2.

Kenneally was encouraged by her performance and is optimistic she will run as well at Ellis Park, where she earned her top Beyer Speed Figure of 105 when winning last year's race. "She's run over Ellis Park one time, and she ran the race of her life over it," he said.

If she wins back-to-back runnings of this race, she will do so without leading jockey Rafael Bejarano, who rode her to victory last year. Bejarano has the mount on graded stakes winner Golden Marlin. Willie Martinez rides Vicki Vallencourt.

Golden Marlin, winner of the Grade 3 Dogwood Breeders' Cup at Churchill in 2003, has stronger form this year than Vicki Vallencourt. She has started four times in 2004, getting three third-place finishes and one win, over Ellis Park Breeders' Cup starter Molto Vita in an allowance at Churchill Downs.

Racing in a stakes-quality allowance race in her last start July 4, Golden Marlin was outfinished, running third behind Tina Bull and My Boston Gal.

Tina Bull, who won that race with a 102 Beyer, will likely be the favorite. A graded-placed filly in search of her first stakes victory, she has the form and class to be a major factor. Shane Sellers, who typically rides at Saratoga, will be aboard Tina Bull for trainer Steve Asmussen.