Valedictory Stakes (Grade 3)- $150.000 Purse
WO- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Half on the Dirt
December 5, 2021
The 12th running of the Grade 3 Valedictory Stakes did not attract a large crowd, as there will only be five horses going to post. However, the ones that did make it here have plenty of talent, so a strong and competitive race should still be on the way. This race sends horses the maximum distance allowed, the full twelve furlongs. Past winners of the race include Shoulder Wheel, Elusive Image, and Techfluence. The 2020 race would be won by No More Haggis and trainer YME Stable. That horse continues to be active in the graded ranks, but could use a change from recent form. Let’s take a look at our five going to the gate.
#1- Talladega (Arindel, ridden by D Moran)- For the first time in his career, Talladega will take off the restrictor plate and take on graded company. He’s been seen in a big race once before, but the $300.000 Grand Prix American JC is an ungraded race. He ran fourth on that September day at BEL, but the trainer did not look to build on that right away, sending him out west to SA for a starter allowance. Talladega won that race, and overall has three wins in his last five. This horse also likes to get out on the lead, as opposed to drafting another.
#2- Big Bang Raj (Rock Creek, ridden by P Husbands)- In his last race, he would run in the Grade 1 Awesome Again, and could only finish eighth, one spot behind 2020 Valedictory winner, No More Haggis. That was a letdown, as the race prior, he looked much better in a third place effort in the Pacific Classic. This has been, by far, the best year of the four year old’s career, and he was especially good in the summer, winning the Grade 2 Brooklyn. Maybe the Awesome Again, at nine furlongs, was simply not long enough. Great chance to overcome that here.
#3- Kick Rocks (Nakamura Stables, ridden by S Ryan)- The El Gran Broomstick gelding was picked up in the September 2020 auction for $35.320, six months after finishing second in the Grade 3 Winn at CD. However, Nakamura has yet to experience a victory with this horse, and that is while running mostly in overnights and even a $50.000 claimer. After running second in an optional claimer at PRX, he’s running graded for the first time since the Winn, but a win will be tough. That said, you never rule this trainer out.
#4- Bring The Pain (Luz International, ridden by D Fukumoto)- It’s career start #42 for this seven year old, and over that time he has earned over $1,200.000 and won nine races. You have to go all the way back to February 2020 since the last time he won, and a lot has happened in this world since then, to put that in perspective. He had a couple close calls in top notch races in 2020, but so far this year, he has been okay. Nothing to be greatly impressed over, but at the same time, he’s still competitive whenever and wherever his trainers have run him. This is his second start for Luz International, who purchased him in private sales this October.
#5- Boa G (Night Rider Stables, ridden by L Contreras)- Early in his career, we mostly saw Boa G running in TX-breds, and that is when he had the most consistent success. He would be claimed by Night Rider in May of 2020 and has been wildly inconsistent since then. The one time he looked like he could handle a stakes field, it was again with the TX-bred condition, where he was second, but overall this level has not been kind to him. Comes out of a second place showing in a KEE allowance, and off of that, a stake is tried again.