Undefeated Coppa proved up to the test in her first stakes try, holding off stretch challengers to her inside and outside to win the $150,000 Victory Ride Stakes (gr. III) by a neck July 9 at Belmont Park.
Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino's Coppa scored gate-to-wire victories in her first two starts in Southern California and a trip east proved profitable for the connections, which also include trainer Phil D'Amato and regular rider Joe Talamo.
Breaking from the outside in the field of seven 3-year-old fillies, Coppa and Talamo tracked from third early behind speedy longshot Behrnik's Bank and versatile Lost Raven through a quarter-mile in :22.53 and half-mile in :45.61. Comfortable from her new tracking position, Coppa, by Yesbyjimmy, seized the lead off the turn, then proved game as she held off closing efforts from Malibu Stacy to her outside and grade II-placed One True Kiss to her inside.
"When she got in front of those other fillies I really had a ton of horse under me and I thought we were going to open up a little bit. She started out in a good way but when those two other fillies came through [One True Kiss, Malibu Stacy] she really turned it on," Talamo said. "I was confident she could rate just off the pace. Thanks to Phil, I've been working her a lot in the morning and I definitely got to know her where she'll sit just off horses pretty nice. With that cozy nine-hole in a seven horse field it worked out perfect."
Chris Davis, assistant to winning trainer Phil D'Amato said Coppa handled the travel well.
"For being a lightly raced 3-year-old filly, she handled shipping cross-country unbelievably," Davis said. "She showed her class today in running on a new track. It's a lot to ask, and she exceeded all the expectations."
Coppa completed the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.23 and returned $3.90, $3.10, and $2.60 across the board. Malibu Stacy, who earned her first stakes placing, held second by a head and paid $9 to place and $5.20 to show. One True Kiss paid $4.10 to show.
Bred in Florida by Carlos Rafael, Coppa is out of the Valid Appeal mare Diplomatic Angel. Boomer Bloodstock, agent, purchased Coppa for $210,000 from the Blue River Bloodstock consignment at the 2015 Ocala Breeders' Sale Co. April sale of 2-year-olds in training.