Sunday, October 22, 2023

Vahva’s gritty effort in the $350,000 Raven Run S. (G2) Saturday at Keeneland earned the 3-year-old Gun Runner filly her second straight graded stakes win. She is one of 10 graded stakes winners this year for her sire, who is second to only Into Mischief on the 2023 General Sire list.

Three Chimneys recently announced that Gun Runner’s 2024 fee will be $250,000 live foal S&N.

Vahva, winner of the Charles Town Oaks (G3) in her prior start, used similar stalking tactics for Saturday’s win as well. With odds-on favorite Alva Starr setting the pace, Vahva kept within a couple of lengths of the leader as she raced along the inside rail. Alva Starr began to pull away on the turn before Vahva came off the fence to mount her stretch-run bid on the outside. With a determined run, she got on even terms inside the final furlong, then surged to the front in the final strides to win by a half-length.

It was more than a dozen lengths back to the rest of the field. Vahva’s final time of 1:23.28 on a fast track earned her a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure.

“Everything worked out good,” said winning rider John Velazquez. “I got close to the heels of [Alva Starr], held my position and when I pulled her out, she responded. That’s all you can ask of the horses. She was there for me, and she did it all.”

Vahva, a $280,000 Keeneland September yearling, is owned by the conglomerate of 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. She has now earned $873,810.

The bay filly was bred in Kentucky by Woodford Thoroughbreds, LLC and is out of the stakes-winner mare Holiday Soiree.