Bobby Zen

A running-on second to Alva Starr (Lord Nelson) when making her seasonal return in Keeneland’s GI Resolute Racing Madison S. Apr. 6, Vahva (Gun Runner) was the 8-5 favorite to reverse form with that rival in Saturday’s GI Derby City Distaff S. at Churchill Downs and clawed past late for her first win at the elite level.

Quickest into stride from an outside barrier, the $280,000 Keeneland September graduate came back nicely into the hands of Irad Ortiz, Jr. and was content to stalk the pace from third as Alva Starr hounded the pacesetting Spirit Wind (Bahamian Squall). Alva Starr, looking to continue a productive weekend for Louisiana-breds, appeared to be going best of all as she struck to the lead a furlong and a half out while Vahva was up and down for a stride or two. Alva Starr was clinging on grimly as they entered the final furlong, but Vahva found her second wind, overtook her rival at the sixteenth pole and edged clear to win by two lengths.

Vahva closed out her sophomore season with back-to-back wins in the GIII Charles Town Oaks Aug. 25 and GII Lexus Raven Run S. Oct. 21.

“That was an unbelievable performance to win a Grade I on this type of stage is so special,” winning trainer Cherie DeVaux said. “It’s really hard to describe. I’m just so happy with everyone involved with this horse and our team.”

Pedigree Notes:

Vahva becomes the ninth Grade I winner for leading young sire Gun Runner. She is bred similarly to Gun Runner‘s ill-fated champion and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Echo Zulu. Vahva’s stakes-winning dam Holiday Soiree, who also finished third in the GI Humana Distaff, brought $300,000 from Wimberley Bloodstock at the 2023 KEENOV sale. Holiday Soiree is also represented by the 2-year-old filly Ahavah (City of Light) ($400,000 KEESEP yearling purchase by Belladonna Racing/Cherie DeVaux), a yearling filly by Nyquist and a filly by City of Light of this year.

#10 Vahva gets the late pass and pulls away to win the Derby City Distaff @ChurchillDowns as the 8/5 favorite!

Jockey: @iradortiz
Trainer: @reredevaux

#TwinSpiresReplay pic.twitter.com/LfXJZdUnMY

— TwinSpires Racing (@TwinSpires) May 4, 2024

Saturday, Churchill Downs
DERBY CITY DISTAFF S. PRESENTED BY KENDALL-JACKSON WINERY-GI, $1,000,000, Churchill Downs, 5-4, 4yo/up, f/m, 7f, 1:21.75, 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
1ST GRADE I 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-Irad
Ortiz, Jr. $589,000. Lifetime Record: 12-5-3-2, $1,578,310.
*1/2 to Signal From Noise (Arrogate), SP, $163,990.
Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Alva Starr, 123, f, 4, by Lord Nelson
                1st Dam: Sittin At the Bar (MSW & GSP, $705,896),
                                by Into Mischief
                2nd Dam: Fast Laner, by Mutakddim
                3rd Dam: Lois Laner, by Cutlass Reality
O-P. Dale Ladner; B-Brett A. Brinkman & P. Dale Ladner (KY);
T-Brett A. Brinkman. $190,000.
3–Flying Connection, 123, f, 4, by Nyquist
1st Dam: Free Flying Soul (MSW & MGISP, $423,177), by Quiet American
                2nd Dam: Ruby Surprise, by Farma Way
                3rd Dam: Santa Rosalia, by Bold Bidder
($250,000 Ylg ’21 KEESEP). O-Brad King, Randy Andrews, G.
Chris Coleman, Jim Cone, Suzanne Kirby and Lee Lewis;
B-Liberty Road Stables (KY); T-Todd W. Fincher. $95,000.
Margins: 2, 3/4, HF. Odds: 1.72, 2.30, 13.45.
Also Ran: Chi Town Lady, Sterling Silver, Spirit Wind, Three Witches, Red Carpet Ready, Olivia Darling, American Band.
Click for the Equibase.com chart and the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by FanDuel TV.

The post Gun Runner’s Vahva Gets Her Grade I In the Derby City Distaff appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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