By Karen M. Johnson
Victory Pool, third in last year’s Affectionately Handicap, gives the $75,000 stakes for fillies and mares another whirl in her final career start at Aqueduct Jan. 12.
Victory Pool, the 117-pound high weight, is among eight entered in the 1 1/16-mile inner dirt race.
Victory Pool, a 6-year-old daughter of Victory Gallop, has raced throughout her career for owner Ebby Novak and trainer Ben Perkins Jr. Novak bought the mare before she reached the races, with the intent of breeding her upon retirement. She will be bred to Forest Wildcat, a graded stakes winner owned by Novak and trained by Perkins, and a perennial leader among stallions since entering stud in 1997.
Texas-bred Victory Pool has proven to be a solid performer for her connections. She enters the Affectionately with a record of 7-7-6 from 26 starts, and earnings of $335,402, fresh off a two-length win in an allowance race at Philadelphia Park Dec. 18.
“She works hard all the time,” Perkins said Jan. 10. “She was within herself in her last race. Sometimes the competition has been tougher for her over the summer, but (the competition) comes back to her in the winter.
“We broke her as a 2-year-old and now Mr. Novak will breed her. She fits the profile to be bred to Forest Wildcat; she’s bred to go long, and can run long and short.”
Alan Garcia rides Victory Pool from post five.
Stage Luck, Dinner Break, and Runway Rosie were entered in an Aqueduct allowance race Jan. 12, but when the race didn’t fill, they joined the Affectionately field.
The Darley Stable-owned Stage Luck is the most intriguing runner in the field. The 4-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song was purchased for $1.6 million as a yearling at Keeneland. She has only raced three times and didn’t make her career debut until August 2007. After finishing third in her first race, trainer Tom Albertrani equipped Stage Luck with blinkers, and she romped to easy wins in a Sept. 5 Delaware Park maiden race and a Nov. 4 allowance race at Aqueduct.
Albertrani said the filly had an ankle chip removed as a 2-year-old, hence the late start.
“She’s shown a lot of talent once she got to the races,” Albertrani said Jan. 10. “Her first race was a learning experience; she was pretty green. I think the blinkers helped her to focus. (The Affectionately) will be a good test for her as she steps up in class.”
Stewart Elliott rides Stage Luck, who drew post two and carries 114 pounds.
Dinner Break won an overnight stakes in the slop at Aqueduct Dec. 14, defeating Runway Rosie by a nose.
Aliysa was an easy winner in the slop at Philadelphia Park in her last start. Lucky Revival, a winner of a starter allowance race at Aqueduct Dec. 12; Homerette, second in last year’s Affectionately; and Baby Bird complete the field.
$75,000 Affectionately Handicap (Race 8, 3:49 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Inner Track)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Aliysa (BRZ), 114, Ramon A. Dominguez
2. Stage Luck (KY), 114, Stewart Elliott
3. Lucky Revival (FL), 114, Norberto Arroyo, Jr.
4. Homerette (NY), 112, Jean-Luc Samyn
5. Victory Pool (TX), 117, Alan Garcia
6. Dinner Break (KY), 115, Rajiv Maragh
7. Baby Bird (KY), 115, Channing Hill
8. Runway Rosie (KY), 114, Michael J. Luzzi