Valley Crossing due again for 'Devil' Rivals meet in Woodward with ACRS victory at stake

September 17, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Valley Crossing has recovered from a bout of jet lag after his recent excursion to California, where he finished fifth in the Pacific Classic, and is ready to renew his rivalry tomorrow with Devil His Due in the Woodward Stakes at Belmont Park.

The $500,000 race is the final event in the lucrative American Championship Racing Series and marks the fifth time Valley Crossing meets Devil His Due.

So far each horse has beaten the other twice. Devil His Due won the Pimlico Special and Suburban Handicap, beating Valley Crossing each time. But Valley Crossing, who could be a shoo-in to be chosen Maryland-bred Horse of the Year, defeated him in the Nassau County and Iselin Handicaps.

"Our horse was tuckered out for a day or two after coming back from California," his trainer, Dick Small, said. "But he's bounced back, worked a good mile [on Monday in 1 minute, 40 3/5 seconds at Pimlico], and Belmont [with wide, sweeping turns] suits his style."

Also included in the Woodward field are Bertrando and Missionary Ridge, 1-2 finishers in the Pacific Classic; West By West, runner-up to Brunswick in his last start in the Whitney Stakes and the 3-year-old Miner's Mark, who was third in the Travers.

At stake tomorrow is a $550,000 bonus for the winner of the ACRS series. Devil His Due, the leader with 31 points, can finish first, second or third in the Woodward and still win the money. Valley Crossing, second with 25 points, must win or finish second, with Devil His Due finishing fourth, to earn the bonus.

Even if he fails, 1993 is the year that propelled Valley Crossing into the national spotlight. He ranks among the country's top 10 older horses.

"People laughed at us when we went in these races," Small said. "But he's been on the board so many times, and then won the Iselin. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that it's better to finish second in a $500,000 race than to win a $50,000 one. The fact is that at age 5, he's still here, and at the heart of racing is a horse's endurance. We're still around, and hopefully, he'll keep going next year at 6."

The Woodward is part of Belmont's Super Saturday I card that also includes the Man o'War, Futurity, Matron and Fall Highweight Stakes.

Small has eight stakes-class horses in his Pimlico shed row. After the Woodward, Valley Crossing could run with stablemate Frottage in the Meadowlands Cup or wait for the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Star Minister and Dancing Douglas are being pointed for the Maryland Million. Broad Gains and Tennis Lady could meet Jacody in the Cotillion Handicap at Philadelphia Park. Punch Line is a possibility for the Jamaica Handicap at Belmont and Sticks N Bricks is working on a comeback.

Small also has Dancing Douglas entered tomorrow in a race at Belmont Park, and the horse's regular rider, Andrea Seefeldt, is also named on three mounts at Pimlico. "If she's not available, I'll scratch him," Small said.

Looking for a signal

Pimlico/Laurel operator Joe De Francis is considering adding the daily card at Philadelphia Park to the Maryland simulcasting schedule.

The track is taking signals from two out-of-state tracks daily -- Belmont and Arlington Parks -- but wants to maintain a three-track schedule. Del Mar ended on Wednesday and another southern California signal won't be picked up until Santa Anita begins its Oak Tree meet on Oct. 6. Pimlico/Laurel stops taking Arlington simulcasts on Oct. 8.

"Philadelphia could fill the void of the third signal and also be used on Tuesday [when there are currently no other out-of-state simulcasts]," De Francis said. He added that general manager John Mooney Jr. has started discussions with Philadelphia vice president and chief operating officer Bill Hogwood about adding Philadelphia to the lineup.

New stable for Eppler

For a brief moment yesterday it looked as if trainer Mary Eppler had sent out her first winner for new clients, Sam and Carolyn Rogers of Leesburg, Va., when Ambush Alley won the $22,000 Pimlico feature.

But the horse was disqualified after the stewards said jockey Joe Rocco bumped into runner-up No Delay near the sixteenth pole. Ambush Alley was disqualified and No Delay declared the winner, continuing Rocco's recent streak of bad luck. The jockey was thrown twice last week and was kicked in the head, back and arm in the spills. He made a winning return yesterday, although the judges ruled his ride on Ambush Alley was a bit aggressive.

Caviness gets Cormorant's Flight

Peter Angelos' Cormorant's Flight, who won the Jameela, Politely and Caesar's Wish Stakes for trainer Ron Cartwright earlier this year, has returned to Pimlico after a three-month vacation. But the filly has a new trainer. Tom Caviness, who trains several other horses for Angelos, has taken over conditioning the horse. Caviness estimates Cormorant's Flight is about six weeks away from running in a race.

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