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Vahva Overhauls Alva Starr in Deep Stretch to Win Lexus Raven Run

Raise Cain outduels Dr. Venkman to take Perryville

Vahva, owned by Belladonna Racing, Edward Hudson Jr. West Point Thoroughbreds, Nice Guys Stables and Twin Brooks Stables et al, collared pace-setting Alva Starr in deep stretch to post a half-length victory in the 25th running of the $349,375 Lexus Raven Run (G2) for 3-year-old fillies Saturday afternoon. 

Earlier on the 10-race program, Andrew and Rania Warren’s Raise Cain won the 15th running of the $235,188 Perryville (L) for 3-year-olds. 

Trained by Cherie DeVaux and ridden by John Velazquez, Vahva covered the 7 furlongs on a fast main track in 1:23.28. It is DeVaux’s first Keeneland stakes victory and the 62nd here for Velazquez. Three of those wins have come in the Raven Run with previous victories coming in 2008 with Informed Decision and 2012 with Gypsy Robin. 

Alva Starr led the field of seven through an opening quarter-mile in :22.61 while under token pressure from Ancient Peace with Vahva tracking in fourth. On the far turn, Vahva began to close in and by the top of the stretch it was game on between the two favorites. 

Alva Starr stubbornly clung to an advantage through most of the run through the lane, yielding only inside the sixteenth pole as Vahva pushed past for the victory. 

A Keeneland sales graduate, Vahva was coming off a victory in the Charles Town Oaks (G3). A Kentucky-bred daughter of Gun Runner out of the Harlan’s Holiday mare Holiday Soiree, Vahva improved her record to 10-4-2-2 and increased her earnings to $873,810 with Saturday’s $211,575 check. 

Vahva returned $7.06, $2.92 and $2.46. Sent off as the favorite, Alva Starr returned $2.64 and $2.42 and finished 12½ lengths in front of Dazzling Blue, who paid $3.24 to show under Florent Geroux. 

It was another half-length back to Apple Picker with Lily Poo, Lady Radler and Ancient Peace following in order. 

Raise Cain wins Perryville

In the Perryville, Raise Cain prevailed by a head over Dr. Venkman after a stretch-long duel. 

Trained by Ben Colebrook and ridden by Luis Saez, Raise Cain covered the 7 furlongs on a fast main track in 1:23.58. 

Verifying and Confidence Game zipped an opening half-mile in :45.69 with Dr. Venkman racing three-wide just behind the leaders and Raise Cain saving ground in fourth. 

On the turn, Dr. Venkman went after the top two with Raise Cain tipping off the inside and moving just behind Dr. Venkman. 

At the top of the stretch, those two hooked up with Raise Cain owning the initial momentum to stick his head in front only to have Dr. Venkman battle back to hold a narrow edge through the lane until Raise Cain pushed by for good in the final 20 yards. 

A Keeneland sales graduate, Raise Cain is a Kentucky-bred son of Violence out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Lemon Belle. Winner of the Gotham (G3) this spring, Raise Cain notched his second stakes victory and improved his record to 13-3-2-1 and boosted his earnings to $577,066 with Saturday’s $153,063 check. 

Raise Cain returned $14.88, $5.56 and $4.04. Dr. Venkman, sent off as the favorite under John Velazquez, returned $3.16 and $3.06 and finished 1¼ lengths in front of Post Time, who paid $4.84 to show under Sheldon Russell. 

It was another 5½ lengths back to Loyal Company with Verifying and Confidence Game following in order.