May 26, 2024

Alva Starr makes amends for prior loss to Vahva in Madison

Alva Starr wins the Resolute Racing Madison (G1) at Keeneland (Photo by Coglianese Photography / Credit to Renee Torbit)

The budding rivalry between Alva Starr and Vahva is all square after Saturday’s $591,050 Madison (G1) at Keeneland, in which Alva Starr clung to victory by a half-length over Vahva.

The result of the Madison was a reversal of the form from the Raven Run (G2) over the same track and seven-furlong distance last October, when Vahva caught Alva Starr late to win by a half-length.

Getting an early jump on Vahva in the stretch of the Madison, Alva Starr opened up a two-length advantage in midstretch and lasted to win in a time of 1:23.36 over a fast track. Red Carpet Ready finished a distant third, 4 1/2 lengths behind Vahva.

Narrowly favored over Vahva, Alva Starr paid $6.32. She is owned by P. Dale Ladner, trained by Brett Brinkman, and was ridden by Tyler Gaffalione. She was bred in Kentucky by Ladner and Brinkman.

Showing a different dimension coming off the pace to win the Madison, Alva Starr has now won five of eight starts. In addition to the Madison, Alva Starr captured the Prioress (G2) and Dashing Beauty S. last season and kicked off her 2024 campaign winning the American Beauty S. at Oaklawn on Feb. 3.

Buchu earned her second career stakes win over the Keeneland turf in taking the $386,888 Appalachian (G2) for three-year-old fillies.

The winning margin was a half-length over 59-1 outsider Mo Fox Givin, who edged Dancing N Dixie by a neck for place honors. Pounce, the 2.96-1 favorite, finished 11th in the field of 12.

Victorious last October in the Jessamine (G2) by 3 3/4 lengths, Buchu was making her first start since a sixth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) in November.

A homebred racing for Rigney Racing and trained by Phil Bauer, Buchu covered one mile on good ground in 1:36.36 under Martin Garcia. She paid $15.04. The daughter of Justify has now won three of five starts on the grass and is 3-for-6 overall.

Also repeating stakes success from last year’s fall meet at Keeneland was Arzak, who rallied from slightly off the pace to win the $337,969 Shakertown (G2) for older grass sprinters under Irad Ortiz Jr.

Victorious by two lengths in the Woodford (G2) in October and second choice here in a field of 12, Arzak scored by a neck over 2-1 favorite Mischief Magic, with Eamonn a head behind in third. He covered 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.93 and paid $9.24.

Owned by Sonata Stable and trained by Michael Trombetta, Arzak is a six-year-old Kentucky-bred son of of Not This Time. In between his two Keeneland triumphs, Arzak finished two lengths sixth to Nobals in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita.

The lightly-raced gray Bo Cruz earned his first career stakes win in the $294,500 Commonwealth (G3), scoring by 2 1/2 lengths over Minnesota Ready, who had a two-length advantage on the favored Wico in a field of seven older horses.

Exiting a third-place finish in a Fair Grounds allowance in mid-February, Bo Cruz covered seven furlongs in 1:22.94 under Jose Ortiz. Racing for the partnership of Roger Cettina, Brian Pagano, Patrick Grippo, Peter Martine, and Bruno De Julio, Bo Cruz is trained by Al Stall Jr.