Cherie DeVaux trainee Vahva (f, 3, Gun Runner–Holiday Soiree, by Harlan's Holiday) shipped in to Charles Town off a third in Belmont's July 8 GIII Victory Ride S. to capture Friday night's 15th running of the $750,000 GIII Charles Town Oaks, billed as the richest sprint race for sophomore fillies in North America. Off at 7-5, Vahva raced just behind the leaders while 96-1 Late Frost (Frosted) set early fractions of :23.37 and :46.82 as Undervalued Asset (Speightstown) pressured her from the outside. The two pacesetters pulled well clear of the field on the final turn with just Vahva threatening behind in third. Vahva joined the pacesetting party about a furlong from home and the three lined up across the track inside the final sixteenth. The frontrunners held tough, but Vahva was moving best of all and had one last, late gear. She put 1 1/4 lengths on the pair right before the wire. Undervalued Asset outnosed Late Frost on the line for second. The winner's final time for the seven furlongs was 1:25.01.
A $280,000 Keeneland September yearling who hammered in 2021 to BDR IV and West Point, Vahva has jumped into the deep end a number of times. She faced 'TDN Rising Star' and eventual GI Kentucky Oaks/Acorn/Test winner Pretty Mischievous (Into Mischief) when third in her stakes debut last December in the Untapable S. at Fair Grounds and again when fourth behind that one in the GII Rachel Alexandra S. in February at the same track. A second in a Keeneland allowance, a win in a Churchill allowance on Kentucky Oaks Day, and a third behind the late Maple Leaf Mel (Cross Traffic) in the aforementioned Victory Ride led Vahva to Charles Town and this initial graded win.
— TDN (@theTDN) August 26, 2023
Vahva is the 15th graded winner and 21st overall black-type winner for Gun Runner, currently a top five North American leading general sire–quite an accomplishment for a young stallion with only his third crop of 2-year-olds now reaching the track. Gun Runner, who earned the Horse of the Year title in 2017, stands at Three Chimneys. Vahva is Gun Runner's only stakes winner out of a daughter of the late Harlan's Holiday, who died a decade ago at age 14 at Argentina's Haras Firmamento and has 53 black-type winners as a broodmare sire.
The winner's dam, Holiday Soiree, was runner-up in the 2012 edition of this race. She was most recently sold at the 2021 Keeneland November sale to Rock Ridge Thoroughbreds for $160,000. The mare produced a City of Light filly the next year, now a yearling, and a filly by Nyquist on Mar. 10. She was bred back to City of Light for next term.
.Friday, Charles Town
CHARLES TOWN OAKS-GIII, $750,000, Charles Town, 8-25, 3yo, f, 7f, 1:25.01, wf.
1–VAHVA, 118, f, 3, by Gun Runner
1st Dam: Holiday Soiree (SW & GISP, $405,642),
by Harlan's Holiday
2nd Dam: Try to Remember, by Include
3rd Dam: Casanova Striker, by Smart Strike
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($280,000
Ylg '21 KEESEP). O-Belladonna Racing, LLC, Edward J. Hudson,
Jr., West Point Thoroughbreds, LBD Stable LLC, Nice Guys
Stables, Manganaro Bloodstock, Runnels Racing, Steve
Hornstock and Twin Brook Stables; B-Woodford
Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Cherie DeVaux; J-John R.
Velazquez. $432,000. Lifetime Record: 9-3-2-2, $662,235.
*1/2 to Signal From Noise (Arrogate), SP, $159,190.
Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
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2–Undervalued Asset, 118, f, 3, Speightstown–Hard Headed
Temper, by Hard Spun. ($150,000 Wlg '20 KEENOV).
O-Klaravich Stables, Inc.; B-Speightstown Syndicate & Cloyce C.
Clark, Jr. (KY); T-Chad C. Brown. $144,000.
3–Late Frost, 120, f, 3, Frosted–La La's Cookin, by Harlan's
Holiday. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. O-Runnymoore Racing,
LLC; B-Gregory and Caroline Bentley Breeders (PA); T-Michael
Margins: 1 1/4, NO, 6 3/4. Odds: 1.40, 3.30, 96.40.
Also Ran: Metaphysical, Lily Poo, Imonra, Interpolate, Hoosier Philly, Opus Forty Two, Chismosa. Scratched: Perfect Wish, Twice as Sweet.
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