Joyful Victory Cool as Ice in Santa Margarita
In her sixth try at the grade I level, Joyful Victory finally broke through with a front-running trip under Rosie Napravnik to capture the $294,250 Santa Margarita Stakes in style March 16 at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO).
With the win, Joyful Victory surpassed $1 million in career earnings. She was making her second appearance in Southern California for her connections following a runner-up finish behind Love and Pride in last fall's Zenyatta Stakes (gr. I).
Talking about Joyful Victory's first win in a grade I, Jones said: "I was starting to wonder if she was ever going to show up at the right time at the right day. She had shown us this brilliance at times, but she's just doing everything better right now. She's grown up a lot mentally, because the Tapits, some of them can be a little high-strung and tough. But she has settled into herself really well, and with the Good Lord's blessings, we're going to have a big year."
"She broke sharp," said Napravnik, who rode Joyful Victory for the first time at Sam Houston. "She likes to run freely and doesn't like being restrained, so it was nice that we had plenty of room on the rail to take the lead into the first turn. She was just relaxed and ran a great race."
Jones had nothing but praise for Napravnik afterward.
"I thought we were going to be on the heels of horses on the first turn, but when (Great Hot) went wide, Rosie just took advantage of it," Jones noted.
The trainer said the goal is to bring Joyful Victory back to Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup in November.
"We definitely will not turn her out but we may go light with her early for the rest of the summer and get serious in the fall and start trying to point to get back out here," he said.
"We were very happy," trainer John Sadler said of More Chocolate's effort. "She ran a really good race, and give credit to the winner. The winner did the hard work and kept going, so we're very happy."
The winner carried 118 pounds and paid $4.20, $2.60, and $2.10, combining with 2-1 second choice More Chocolate ($3.20, $2.20) for a $12.40 exacta. Brushed by a Star, who shipped in from Florida for trainer Eddie Kenneally, paid $2.20.
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