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Keeneland Preview & FREE Picks | Raven Run Stakes 2023: Alva Starr Looks To Continue Winning Ways
Alva Starr (Jason Moran/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Keeneland Preview & FREE Picks | Raven Run Stakes 2023: Alva Starr Looks To Continue Winning Ways

Aaron previews the 2023 Raven Run Stakes (G2) from Keeneland, then gives his top picks & long shots.

Can Alva Starr continue her winning ways following her Prioress Stakes (G2) victory at Saratoga? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The press release:

Dale Ladner and Brett Brinkman have been down this road before.

Two years ago, they came to Keeneland for the Lexus Raven Run (G2) with a filly they co-bred named Cilla, who had just posted a breakthrough, Grade 2 victory in the Prioress at Saratoga.

This time around, the two are co-breeders on Cilla’s half-sister Alva Starr, who comes in for the Lexus Raven Run off an 8¾-length victory in the Prioress.

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“Alva Starr is faster than Cilla,” said Brinkman, who trained both fillies for Ladner. “They are a little bit different in disposition in that Alva Starr can be a little standoffish.”

Cilla was making her 11th career start when she finished third in the Lexus Raven Run. Alva Starr will be making only her sixth when she goes postward Saturday.

“She won her first start last year at Delaware Park, and I brought her here for a stakes and was not happy with how she was doing,” Brinkman said. “So I scratched her and backed off her, and it has worked out well. You can tell a big difference in her maturity.”

On Sunday morning, Alva Starr put in her final work for the Lexus Raven Run with a half-mile breeze in :49 with Tyler Gaffalione up.

“I was looking for an easy :48 or :49 and let Tyler get a feel for her,” Brinkman said. “Nothing like last week (a 5-furlong breeze in :58.)”

This is not the first time a Gaffalione has ridden for Brinkman.

“Tyler’s dad (Steve) rode for me at Calder when I first got my trainer’s license,” Brinkman said.

Alva Starr’s dam is Sittin At the Bar, who also has produced stakes winners Club Car and Jack the Umpire, the latter of which began his career with Ladner and Brinkman.

“Dale names most of the horses,” Brinkman said. “Jack the Umpire was named after an uncle of his who was a high school baseball umpire.”

And Alva Starr?

“They filmed the movie ‘This Property Is Condemned’ (in 1966) in his hometown of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and the high school kids got to hang out with the actors,” Brinkman said. “Alva Starr’s character was played by Natalie Wood.”