Venus Valentine wasn’t given much shot as the 74-1 longest shot on the board in Saturday’s $200,000 TwinSpires.com Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds, but prevailed by a length on the wire with jockey Corey Lanerie aboard.
She finished 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:45.24 and paid $150.40 to win.
The score catapulted Venus Valentine from nowhere to first on the Kentucky Oaks (G1) leaderboard with 50 points. The Rachel Alexandra is part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series of points races and opened the Championship portion of the series.
Undefeated champion Songbird had led the leaderboard since last year, but was bumped to second with 40 points currently.
Midnight On Oconee took second after tracking battling pacesetters Lovable Lyss and Finley’sluckycharm through opening splits of :23:02 and :46.33. The dark bay lass added 20 points to her previous four earned from a second in the Silverbulletday S. and now resides in third on the leaderboard.
Shaken and Royal Obsession, separated by only a neck in third and fourth, respectively, joined the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 10 points and five points.
Venus Valentine earned her first stakes win in this spot for trainer Tom Amoss and owner/breeder Rosemont Farm. The chestnut daughter of Congrats captured her debut last July at Ellis Park by 3 1/4 lengths, then ran fourth in the Arlington-Washington Lassie over the synthetic Polytrack.
Venus Valentine made just one more start as a juvenile, finishing fifth in a sloppy, sealed allowance/optional claimer at Fair Grounds on November 21. She opened 2016 with a fourth-place effort on Fair Grounds’ turf, and now boasts a 4-2-0-0 mark with $145,185 in career earnings.
Bred in Kentucky, Venus Valentine is out of the Stormin Fever mare Valentine Fever and comes from the same female family as 1995 Kentucky Oaks queen Gal in a Ruckus.
RACHEL ALEXANDRA QUOTES
Corey Lanerie, jockey Venus Valentine, winner: “They told me she was a longshot today but she was doing really good and to just let her run her race.”
Tom Amoss, trainer Venus Valentine, winner: “She’s been a bit of a guessing game. She won her first start for us and we knew she had great raw talent. She was tying up and cramping up a lot muscle-wise. We solved this problem…we felt she had a real chance based on how she was coming into the race.”
James Graham, jockey Midnight on Oconee, second: “She got an easy lead last time, but she did what she had to do today. She was floating her ears up back and forth and I just sat as long as I could.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey Shaken, third: “We had a beautiful filly for only her second start. She dug in and got graded stakes placed in only her second start. She missed the break a little, but you have to expect that with this being only her second start. She even got a little tired late, but she kept digging in and giving me more. She's a nice filly.”
Florent Geroux, jockey beaten favorite Stageplay, fifth: “We were wide all the way and did all the dirty work for the winner.”