Victory U.S.A., who in two previous matchups with Halfbridled could finish no better than third, turned the tables on last year's juvenile filly champion with an impressive win in the $250,000 Stonerside Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland Thursday.
Sent off as the 5-2 second-choice behind Halfbridled, Victory U.S.A stalked the early leaders down the backstretch and through the turn before drawing off from the field down the stretch to earn her first graded stakes victory. Victory U.S.A. and jockey Jerry Bailey completed the about seven-furlong trip in 1:27.06 while defeating Halfbridled, the 2-5 favorite, by 8 1/4 lengths. Wildwood Flower was third, another 1 1/2 length back.
"She probably ran to her potential today," Bailey said. "I hated to ask her that much today but I was afraid Mandella's horse (Halfbridled) would catch us. If she runs like she did today (in the April 30 Kentucky Oaks), it is not going to be a matter of distance."
Halbridled, who was scratched from Saturday's Ashland Stakes (gr. I) after tying up the previous day, was slow to get in gear after breaking from the gate and was last in the nine-horse field while five or six paths wide entering the turn. Jockey Alex Solis and Halfbridled circled the field around the turn with a modest move but they were never able to threaten Victory U.S.A.
"I don't know what happened (at the start)," Solis said. "She just kind of took herself back. She went to lugging out on the turn. I think the turns were too sharp for her."
Victory U.S.A. finished third to Halfbridled last year in both the Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). She earned her first stakes win in the Moccasin Stakes at Hollywood Park following the Juvenile Fillies.
A daughter of Victory Gallop,
Victory U.S.A has now won three of eight career starts with two seconds and two thirds. In her only previous start this year for trainer Bob Baffert she finished second to Ashado in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II).
"She needed her first race this year," Baffert said. "She got washy at Fair Grounds. I told Jerry he could take her off the pace and she'd be fine. She has been doin' great. She's on her game. She finally ran like we always thought she could run."
Bred in Kentucky by George Brunacini, Victory U.S.A is out of the Cox's Ridge mare Fordyce. She was purchased by owner Tom Van Meter II at last year's Fasig-Tipton February sale for $525,000.
The winning purse was $155,000.
Victory U.S.A. paid $7.60, $2.40 and $2.10. Halfbridled returned $2.10 and $2.10. Wildwood Flower's show was $2.10.