Valhalla Miss, the slowest, by far, of the three heat winners, is poised to fight out the finish of the $100,000 APG Sales Classic for two-year-old fillies at Gloucester Park on Friday night, according to reinsman Kyle Harper.
“She had plenty up her sleeve when she won her heat,” said Harper. “She was untouched and won easily (rating a modest 1.59.9 over the 1730m). “She had her first start a week before that when second to Wonderful To Fly, who rated 1.56.7 over 1730m.
“That was her second education to racing last week and I didn’t think she needed a gut buster. If she hasn’t improved, I’d be surprised. And if she can’t run out in front and rate 1.56 and change in the final, I’d be surprised. If she does, she’s going to be mighty hard to beat, and I expect her to be a good top three contender.
“Looking for dangers, I have a lot of time for Extraordinary Mary, who was quite impressive in winning her heat (rating 1.58.3). Other fillies who impressed in the heats, Jay Elle and Sovrana have drawn out wide.”
Valhalla Miss, bred by the Allwood Stud Farm and purchased at the APG yearling sale for $17,500 by Byford trainer Linda Hamilton and her husband Barry, is by Fly Like An Eagle and is the fifth and last foal out of Northern Luck mare Teen Queen Lombo, who also produced Allamerican Queen, whose five wins from 34 starts included the Group 1 Westbred Classic for three-year-old fillies in June 2017.
Jemma Hayman is a part-owner and trainer of Extraordinary Mary, who impressed with her all-the-way win at a 1.58.3 rate in a heat. She dashed over the final 800m in 57sec. and won by three lengths from Bramante Steps.
This will be Hayman’s first runner as a trainer in a group 1 pacing event. Her previous experience as a thoroughbred trainer in a group 1 feature was in the 2014 Perth Cup at Ascot when Knightlike finished fifth.
Hayman and her husband Ross Olivieri are hoping to be at the fore in Friday night’s classic in which the Olivieri-trained Treacherous Tiger will be driven by Chris Voak from barrier five. Treacherous Tiger followed her second on debut behind Eagle Royalty, when she had a tough run, out wide early and then in the breeze before finishing fourth behind Jay Elle in a qualifying heat.
“The fillies worked together this morning (Tuesday) and we are really happy with the way they worked,” said Hayman. “I’m not sure whether Extraordinary Mary has sufficient gate speed to lead from barrier four. I’ll discuss tactics with Shannon (Suvaljko) to see what he thinks.”
Suvaljko has won this classic event with Classical Gas (1992), Jupiters Darling (2005) and Soho Interceptor (2018), while Olivieri has won the race four times with Parthenon (1994), Backin A Jiffy (2000), Hindu Sitara (2003) and Double Expresso (2019).
“If Treacherous Tiger gets a nice run, she will play a big part,” declared Olivieri.
Justin Prentice, who prepared Tenniele Erin for her victory in 2017, is looking for a strong performance from the Alta Christiano filly Jay Elle, who made an impressive debut when she finished powerfully from sixth at the 300m to win a heat from the pacemaker Sovrana.
Jay Elle, to be driven by Gary Hall Jnr, has the ability to overcome the wide barrier. Hall, who has won this classic behind Soho Cannes in 2011 and Red Hot Roxy in 2016, said: “Jay Elle went really well at her first race start, but obviously she will have to go better to win from the wide draw. She was the only runner in the heats to come from well back,” he said.
Trainer-reinsman Aiden de Campo said that he expected Sovrana to be tested from the wide draw. “She had not led before, in trackwork or trials, before she set the pace in her heat,” he said. “Barrier nine will hurt in the final. I’m very happy with her, but she is still a bit green and has a lot to learn.”
By Ken Casellas