Victory Ride Passes Xtra Heat in Test Stakes

Victory Ride rebounded from her lone defeat to hand Xtra Heat just her third loss in 17 career starts in Saturday's $250,000 Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga. Under Edgar Prado, Victory Ride completed the seven furlongs in 1:21.72 on a fast track.

The win was Victory Ride's third victory from four career starts, with all of the 3-year-old filly's wins coming at seven furlongs. In her most recent start prior to the Test, she finished a neck behind Forest Secrets in the one-mile Acorn Stakes (gr. I).

Xtra Heat set blazing fractions under highweight of 123 pounds – seven more than the winner -- before succumbing to her third career defeat. Her prior two losses came in the seven-furlong Nassau County Stakes (gr. II) and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I).

George Arnold II-trained Victory Ride bided her time in fourth, rallied to overtake Xtra Heat in the stretch, and pulled away to the 3 1/4-length win as the 7-5 favorite. Xtra Heat finished three lengths ahead of Nasty Storm, who spotted the field several lengths after breaking poorly.

"She's really not a good gate horse," said trainer Dallas Stewart. "She's been fractious in the gate before. We have worked with her constantly on this. It's unfortunate that this happened to us in a grade one race. The pace absolutely helped us get back into the race. If she broke well, she could have been there at the end."

Kimbralata, Carafe, Forest Secrets, Harmony Lodge, and Secret Liason completed the order of finish. Gold Mover was scratched.

"You could never get a better trip than she had today," said Arnold. "It set up very well. We thought we would be laying third. I've been on the end of bad trips; it's nice to be on the end of a good one. She came over here today to run a big race, no matter how the trip went."

Victory Ride (Seeking the Gold - Young Flyer, by Flying Paster) earned $150,000 for G. Watts and Louise I. Humphrey Jr. She was bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Mabee.

Victory Ride returned $4.80, $2.70, and $2.30. Xtra Heat paid $3 and $2.60. Nasty Storm returned $3.50 to show. The winning exacta combination returned $13.40.

"I think the (1 1/8-mile) Gazelle (gr. I, Sept. 8) will be next," said Arnold. "We want to stretch her out; we have no questions that she will stretch out. We just didn't have time to do it for the Mother Goose (gr. I). Now, we have time." (Chart, Equibase)