July 22, 2024

Vahva edges Alva Starr in Raven Run; Raise Cain nails Dr. Venkman in Perryville

Vahva in the Lexus Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland
Vahva wins the Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland (Photo by Coady Photography / Credit to John Gallagher)

Saturday $349,375 Raven Run (G2) developed into a two-horse affair, and Vahva overtook Alva Starr nearing the finish line to record her second consecutive graded win. The seven-furlong race highlighted a pair of sprint stakes for three-year-olds at Keeneland Saturday.

John Velazquez was up for Cherie Devaux on the 2.53-1 second choice, and Vahva was timed in 1:23.28. She was exiting a convincing win in the seven-furlong Charles Town Oaks (G3) on Aug. 25, her first graded tally, and the up-and-coming filly has now captured three of her last four starts.

Vahva rated a couple of lengths off the early pace as odds-on favorite Alva Starr, who stretched out to seven panels for the first time after a romping triumph in the Prioress (G2) at Saratoga, showed the way on a clear lead through early splits in :22.61, :45.48 and 1:10.05 splits.

Velazquez asked for run nearing the conclusion of the far turn, and Vahva responded with a sharp turn of foot, angling to the outside of Alva Starr and drawing even in deep stretch. The winner edged away under the finish line, and Alva Starr held second by 13 lengths over Dazzling Blue in third. Next came Apple Picker, Lily Poo, Lady Radler, and Ancient Peace.

A daughter of Gun Runner, Vahva is campaigned by Belladonna Racing, Edward Hudson Jr., West Point Thoroughbreds, LBD Stable, Nice Guys Stable, Manganaro Bloodstock, Runnels Racing, Steve Hornstock, and Twin Brook Stables. She was bred in Kentucky by Woodford Stables and purchased for $280,000 as a yearling at the 2021 Keeneland September sale.

Vahva increased her earnings to $873,810 from a 10-4-2-2 record. She hails from the multiple stakes-winning mare Holiday Soiree, a daughter of Harlan’s Holiday.

In the $235,188 Perryville, Raise Cain rallied determinedly to edge Dr. Venkman by a head, earning his first stakes win since an upset score in the Gotham (G3) last March. The Ben Colebrook-trained colt was overlooked at 6.44-1 among six sophomore rivals in the seven-furlong race, and Raise Cain finished seven furlongs in 1:23.58 with Luis Saez.

The bay son of Violence was exiting a fourth in the Oklahoma Derby (G3) at Remington four weeks ago, and Raise Cain was one of three runners in the Perryville to contest the Kentucky Derby (G1), finishing eighth. His best finish from four starts since was a nose second in the Indiana Derby (G3), and Raise Cain has now earned $577,251 from a 13-3-2-1 record for owners Andrew and Rania Warren.

Dr. Venkman, the 1.26-1 following convincing maiden and entry-level allowance wins, prompted the pace on the far outside and launched his bid leaving far turn, striking the front in upper stretch, but sustained his first setback in the final strides. It was a head back to Post Time in third, and Loyal Company, 8-5 second choice Verifying, and Confidence Game completed the order.

Bred in Kentucky by Rock Ridge Thoroughbreds, Raise Cain sold for $180,000 as a yearling at 2021 Keeneland September sale. He’s the first stakes winner from the Lemon Drop Kid mare Lemon Belle, a half-sister to 2010 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Unrivaled Belle, the dam of two-time champion Unique Bella.