Joyful Victory, who is expected to be one of the favorites for the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), worked five furlongs over a sloppy track in :59 1/5 at Churchill Downs the morning of May 1.
Joyful Victory, who was clocked the fastest of 20 horses that worked the five-furlong distance May 1, won the Honeybee (gr. III) and Fantasy (gr. II) Stakes at Oaklawn Park this year by a combined margin of 15 3/4 lengths. Bred in Kentucky by William Graham, she is owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms.
“She really did well,” said Jones. “We put the other horse out there to kind of make sure that she knew someone was around because she’ll get to loafing a little bit coming down the lane. She just kind of galloped away from the other horse (Payton d'Oro) and the other horse is a nice horse; she won the Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) two years ago. The other horse can run. She made it look like she’s about ready.”
Jones added that Joyful Victory seems to relish wet tracks. “She’s done very well on this,” he said. “Everybody knows that saying that you can’t bet against a gray in the mud. If it was to rain Friday (May 6)-- we’re not going out of our way and praying for rain--but if it rains we’re not going to be afraid to go out there.”
Jones said Joyful Victory's May 1 work was ideal.
“This filly just did it easy,” he said. “He never asked her for anything. It was a good work. It’s what we wanted. We set out to go in :59, knowing that the track could play a little different. When he got her in :59 1/5, that’s as good as we could hope out of Gabriel and it was all well.”
The typically upbeat trainer was beaming as his staff gave Joyful Victory a bath.
“We just wanted a good work in her because the work last week was on the same kind of a track,” he said. “We knew that she had done enough in the Fantasy; we should be ready. So the last work was just more or less a leg-stretcher and to let her kind of get accustomed to the surface here. We were kind of hoping for a dry track today, but we’re also seeing rain in the forecast for Friday, so we’re not afraid to go out and let her do something over it, and she handled it really well.”
Joyful Victory, a $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-old purchase, is out of the Wild Again mare Wild Lucy Black. She is currently ranked second on the Oaks graded earnings list behind R Heat Lightning.
Her Smile covered four furlongs in :50 2/5 in company with stablemate Ibboyee. Her splits were :13 1/5, :25 2/5, and :37 4/5. She galloped out five furlongs in 1:03 2/5 and six furlongs in 1:17 2/5.
“She skipped right over it (the wet track),” jockey Garrett Gomez said back at trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn. “It didn’t seem to bother her at all. I think it (the work) was just what they were after.”
Pletcher had indicated earlier that he still was not sure he was going to enter the Virginia-bred filly in the $1 million Oaks, noting he’d have to discuss that possibility with Flay, who purchased the filly privately from owner-breeder William Backer after her runner-up finish in the Comely Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct April 9.
The morning of May 1, Pletcher still held out that option. “I’m going to talk to Bobby today and we’ll see,” siad Pletcher, who will also saddle R Heat Lightning for the Oaks.
Her Smile has a record of 3-2-1 in seven races, including a victory in the 2010 Donna Freyer Stakes at Philadelphia’s Parx Racing, and earnings of $126,360.