LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Sometimes the inside post in a bulky field can be problematic, but Florent Geroux worked out a perfect stalking trip Friday aboard Lovely Bernadette in winning the 27th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Valley View on the Keeneland turf.
Always in striking distance while absent of traffic woes in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, Lovely Bernadette proved best once the field of 13 3-year-old fillies straightened for home, prevailing by 1 1/2 lengths over a late-running Journey Home. The winner paid $11.60 after finishing in 1:42.80 over firm going.
"That's the trick," said Jimmy DiVito, who trains Lovely Bernadette for James M. Miller. Geroux "did a great job. Once she got clear, I knew we had a good chance of winning."
Before a sun-splashed crowd of 18,378, I'm Betty G seized early command, with Defiant Honor in closest pursuit. Lovely Bernadette settled into a rhythmic stride while saving ground, and once Geroux maneuvered her to the middle of the course for the drive, she accelerated for her third victory from five starts on turf.
Journey Home, well back throughout as a lukewarm 3-1 favorite, rallied belatedly to get second by a head from I'm Betty G, with Fault surging up the rail to be fourth, another 2 3/4 lengths back.
"I tried to nurse her and get her to relax, and when we turned for home she was there for me," said Geroux.
Lovely Bernadette, a Kentucky-bred by Wilburn, had struggled in several dirt races prior to making her grass debut versus older horses in a June 8 allowance at Churchill Downs. She won that day, and there has been no looking back, as she now has won two turf stakes while finishing third in two others.
"When we put her on the grass, she really responded," said DiVito, based primarily in Chicago. "It looks like she's come around and turned around."
The Valley View win was the second for Miller, who won the 2011 running with Daisy Devine, trained by Andrew McKeever.
Lovely Bernadette, like several others in the Valley View, can be expected to advance to Churchill for the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere, a Nov. 24 turf race restricted to 3-year-old fillies.
The $2 exacta (1-9) paid $66.20, the $1 trifecta (1-9-5) returned $230.40, and the 10-cent superfecta (1-9-5-7) was worth $78.80.
Wagering favorites were shut out for the second straight day here, marking a span of 24 races in which the favorite failed to win. The streak dates to the third race Wednesday, when Petrov won at 4-5.
Racing continues here Saturday with the Grade 2 Raven Run as the highlight of a 10-race card. The 17-day meet closes Oct. 28.