On the sidelines for nearly seven months, the Bob Baffert-trained grade II winner Victory U.S.A. returns to action Sunday as the likely favorite in the $100,00 Las Flores Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita.
Although he dominated the Santa Anita trainer standings for seven consecutive years after winning his first title in 1996-97, the Las Flores, a six-furlong event for older fillies and mares, has eluded the 51-year-old Baffert.
In spite of the inclement Southern California weather, Victory U.S.A. has drilled in typical Baffert fashion for her return. The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of 1998 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Victory Gallop
has two bullet workouts among her last six recorded moves.
Victory U.S.A. has not raced since finishing third by a head last July 31 in the San Clemente Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar. The chestnut filly has a 3-2-3 record from 11 starts, with earnings of $613,637 for owner Thomas F. Van Meter II of Lexington, Ky. Victory U.S.A. won the Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) on April 8 and was subsequently fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I).
David Flores rides Victory U.S.A., who was assigned top weight of 120 pounds.$100,000 Las Flores Handicap, fillies & mares 4 & up, 6 furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. Liz On Polk Street, Jose Valdivia Jr., 114
2. Victory U.S.A., David Flores, 120
3. Minnie The Moocher, Victor Espinoza, 112
4. Quero Quero, Gary Stevens, 117
5. Puxa Saco, Mike Smith, 115
6. Delizia, Tyler Baze, 113
7. Miss Terrible, Alex Solis, 116
8. Run Rebecca Run, Julio Garcia, 113
9. Mazella, Jon Court, 113
10. Papa to Kinzie, Pat Valenzuela, 114