Vahva Too Tough in Chicago

Vahva | Coady Media

The wagering public knew they wanted a daughter of Gun Runner to win the GIII Chicago Stakes. In one corner was Vahva, the 2-5 favorite, coming off a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure when in control of the Derby City Distaff Stakes on Derby Day at Churchill May 4. Opposite her was the rail-drawn speed of 2-1 shot Society, the defending Chicago Stakes winner but unraced since a tiring fourth in the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita last November. Ultimately it was Vahva for trainer Cherie DeVaux who wore down her rival late in the stretch to post her second-straight win.

Defeated by just a half-length in her seasonal debut by Alva Starr (Lord Nelson) in the GI Madison Stakes at Keeneland April 6, Vahva turned the tables on that runner in a decisive two-length win under the TwinSpires in the aforementioned Derby City Distaff. But Saturday's 2-5 favorite would need to contend with the inside speed of Society and the pair broke in stride before Vahva just took back and let the 2-1 shot go on with the lead as they left the chute and linked up with the main track. With both runners racing several paths off the fence, there was plenty of room inside for longshot Royal Spa (Violence) to come through and she joined Vahva for second as the quarter went in :22.44. With Society clear up front into the far turn, it was the embattled duo in a joint second who needed to work to keep up and once jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. gave the favorite her head, she began to eat into the lead. Society was going strongly under Tyler Gaffalione past the half in :44.61 but was challenged at the furlong marker by Vahva who seemed to lug in several times as the pair exchanged bumps for several strides. As the pair hit the sixteenth pole, it was Society who ultimately blinked first and began to drop back even as 17-1 longshot Positano Sunset drove home from the back to steal second. No claim of foul from either jockey was posted nor did the stewards hang the inquiry sign as Vahva returned victorious to the winner's circle.

“She loves this long stretch here at Churchill Downs and is 4-for-4 over the surface,” said DeVaux. “We knew how talented she was but when you have a nice horse like Society being the lone speed, it does make you a little nervous. Irad gave her a great trip and she was very impressive running her down. We mapped out her campaign with three targets. She passed the first one with the [GI] Derby City Distaff. Then the [Aug. 24] GI Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga and eventually the [Nov. 2] GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Del Mar. We'll play things by ear on what races we use to get to these targets but this was an important one for us today in helping us continue our path to the Breeders' Cup.”

Pedigree Note:
One of 30 stakes winners for super-sire Gun Runner, Vahva is the most successful runner to date out of the stakes-winning mare Holiday Soiree who also hit the board in the GI Humana Distaff Stakes. The mare is also responsible for the 5-year-old stakes-placed mare Signal From Noise (Arrogate). The dam is a half-sister to MSW/GSP Marquee Prince (Cairo Prince) and to the dams of SP Miss Justify (Justify) and SP Boreas (Upstart). This is the family of MSW/GSP Fuerteventura (Summer Front). Holiday Soiree went through the ring in foal to City of Light at Keeneland November last year for $300,000. She has that filly at foot now along with a yearling filly by Nyquist and an unraced 2-year-old filly also by City of Light.

Saturday, Churchill Downs
CHICAGO S.-GIII, $249,500, Churchill Downs, 6-22, 4yo/up, f/m, 7f, 1:21.01, ft.
1–VAHVA, 123, f, 4, 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
($280,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP). O-Belladonna Racing, LLC, Lynne & Edward J. Hudson, Jr., West Point Thoroughbreds, Nice Guys Stables, Twin Brook Stables, Steve Hornstock, LBD Stable LLC, Manganaro Bloodstock and Runnels Racing; B-Woodford Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Cherie DeVaux; J-Irad Ortiz, Jr.. $154,500. Lifetime Record: GISW, 13-6-3-2, $1,732,810. *1/2 to Signal From Noise (Arrogate), SP, $184,390. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5- cross pedigree or free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Positano Sunset, 118, f, 4, Goldencents–Gigglin' Gal, by Consolidator. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. O-Six Column Stables, LLC, Randall L. Bloch, John Seiler and David Hall; B-John Seiler, Randy Bloch, Trish Henson, Brad Stephens and Dave Hall (KY); T-Ian R. Wilkes. $50,000.
3–Society, 118, m, 5, Gun Runner–Etiquette, by Tapit. O-Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds LLC; B-Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $25,000.
Margins: 1 1/4, NK, 5. Odds: 0.46, 17.58, 2.10.
Also Ran: Chi Town Lady, Royal Spa.
Click for the Equibase.com chart or the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

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