Dixie Serenade makes sweet music as 47-1 shot wins G3 Victory Ride
by Brian Bohl
Dixie Serenade, a 47-1 longshot, rallied from last in the upper stretch to gain the lead in the final jumps over Classy Act in a thrilling finish to win the 16th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Both jockey Mychel Sanchez and trainer Edward Coletti, Jr. won their first respective career graded stakes, as Uptowncharlybrown Stud's Dixie Serenade rocketed past the field from the inside in the final sixteenth, where she hit the wire a neck ahead of Classy Act.
"I was surprised that she won. I wasn't going to be surprised that she hit the board. I was surprised that she came up the rail and ran the way she did," said Coletti, who saddled his first winner in 1990 and has more than 3,330 starts to his credit. "It was his [Sanchez's] decision [to come to ride her]. I asked him if he wanted to come and he said, absolutely. So, we just went with what was working. He rides her well. He fits her great."
Mia Mischief, the 6-5 favorite, went to the front under Ricardo Santana, Jr., going the opening quarter mile in 22.25 seconds and the half in 44.63 on the fast main track. Out of the turn, Mia Mischief held the edge while facing challenges from Class Act and Sower from the outside.
Dixie Serenade, who was last of eight heading for home, capitalized on a ground-saving trip when Sanchez moved her closer to the challengers before her winning move allowed her to complete 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16.57. The Uptowncharlybrown filly paid $97.50 on a $2 win bet. She almost equaled her previous career earnings, bring her bankroll to $266,750.
"She always has a good, hard, firm kick in the stretch," Sanchez said. "The plan was to let the speed go in the beginning and let her settle and hope to get a good trip with an ideal pace which we did and when I asked her she just took off. She's something. I knew I had some distance on the horses up front and at the clip they were moving at I knew I just had to wait for the long stretch. As soon as they opened up, I asked her, and she just took off. The way she runs, you have to drop in and save some ground and I was along the rail the whole time. Thankfully everything opened up today."
Coletti said Dixie Serenade could be targeting the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Test on August 4 at Saratoga Race Course.
"It's going to be on our radar. I'm not sure what the next plan is yet, but it's definitely going to be on our radar."
Classy Act, trained by Bret Calhoun, finished a half-length ahead of Sower for second.
Separationofpowers, Mia Mischief, Spectator, Take Charge Paula and Norma's Charm competed the order of finish. Cosita Mia, D J's Favorite and Devine Mischief were scratched.
Dixie Serenade's win triggered a single-day Pick 6 carryover of $49,863.99 into Wednesday's card at Belmont. A consolation payout of 5-of-6 winners paid $639. Wednesday's Pick 6 sequence will start in Race 4 with an approximate post time of 3:09 p.m.
In the day's first stakes, Homeland Security overtook Savannah Belle from the outside in the final sixteenth of a mile in winning her stakes debut in the fourth running of the $100,000 River Memories for older fillies and mares at 1 ½ miles on the Widener turf.
Flower Fashion set the pace, going a quarter-mile in 23.80 seconds with the half in 49.24 on firm turf. Savannah Belle, off at 27-1, took command on the backstretch under an aggressive move from jockey Jose Ortiz and maintained the edge out of the final turn.
In the stretch, Irad Ortiz, Jr. urged Homeland Security, who surged past Savannah Belle, winning by one length in completing 1 1/2 miles in 2:26.11. The Chad Brown trainee won for the second time in her last three starts and for the third time in six starts overall.
"I just wanted to break out of there and sit comfortable. It's a long way around there, a mile and a half," Ortiz, Jr. said. "When we turned for home, I let her do her thing. She's good. She can do these [longer distances]. She's an honest filly. She'll always show up, no matter what."
Homeland Security, owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, went off a 4-1 and paid $10.20. The 4-year-old Smart Strike filly improved her career earnings to $179,000.
"It was a jump up to stakes company and she delivered," said Whit Beckman, assistant to Brown. "She's a bit of an overachiever but a real tough mare. Coming in, she has the pedigree to think she'd get the route of ground. She's a really relaxed, easygoing filly. It's always good when horses can keep themselves calm in these situations. Our plan was to just break out of there, get her in a real comfortable spot and hopefully, she gets left alone and see what happens."
Savannah Belle, trained by Brian Lynch, finished a length ahead of Summersault for second.
Violet Blue, Estrechada, Silver Step, Flower Fashion and Not Taken completed the order of finish.