Eminent Victor first stakes winner for Mr. Z in $100K Wild Applause
by Mary Eddy
Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Louis Lazzinnaro and Michael Caruso’s Eminent Victor came home the best of four to give her sire, Mr. Z, his first stakes winner in Saturday’s $100,000 Wild Applause, a one-mile Widener turf test for sophomore fillies, at Belmont Park.
Trained by four-time Eclipse Award winner Chad Brown, who also saddled runner-up Oakhurst and fourth-place finisher Lakota Spirit, Eminent Victor made her first start since earning graded black type in September in the Grade 1 Natalma at Woodbine in just her second career start.
Eminent Victor was expertly piloted by Flavien Prat from the outermost post 4 and was kept nine lengths back in third as Breeze Easy led the compact field through an opening quarter-mile in 22.45 seconds with Lakota Spirit pressing to her outside over the firm turf.
Prat asked his charge to reel in her two foes as the pair of pacesetters made their way through the turn and a half-mile in 46.15 with Eminent Victor taking her place to the outside of Breeze Easy. Oakhurst, who broke a step slow and raced well off the pace under Jose Ortiz, made up considerable ground in the turn and swung wide to the center of the racetrack for the drive to the wire with Eminent Victor gaining the advantage in the middle path at the stretch call.
Eminent Victor, despite a bobble at the top of the lane, continued to find more with every stride between her two rivals and held off a game Oakhurst by a half-length in a final time of 1:33.31. She returned $5.40 for a $2 win wager.
Breeze Easy finished 1 1/2 lengths back of Oakhurst for show honors with Lakota Spirit rounding out the order of finish. Al Qahira was scratched.
Brown said he opted to run Eminent Victor in a stake for her first start off the layoff after his plans were derailed several times this spring.
“She’s been ready for two months. This filly has had terrible luck,” said Brown. “We took her to Keeneland, she got excluded. Then, she was rained out at least twice in Kentucky between Keenland and Churchill. So then, rather than chase more allowance races, we brought her back to home base here, pointing for a stake knowing the filly needs to run. That’s why she ended up in a stake, and she had a million breezes so she was fit.”
Eminent Victor has shown maturity since the fall, something Brown said made him take off the blinkers for her sophomore debut.
“When I got her last summer as a private purchase, she came over to Saratoga, and I did all I could to keep her straight on the turf course breezing her. She was difficult to steer, that’s why we put them on,” said Brown. “We got her to cooperate a bit. When I gave her some time off this winter and brought her back, she didn’t really need them. She matured and she was as straight as an arrow. So, we took them off and I ran her without them.”
Prat said having a challenge down the lane helped Eminent Victor find another gear.
“There was a strong pace out there, but I was travelling well," Prat said. "She really kicked on well. I felt like I could catch the two in front. I was just wondering where was the other one [Oakhurst], and when she came along side of me, it helped my filly to get going. After that, she moved on.
“She took a bad step [at the top of the lane], but she recovered really well and went on from there,” Prat added.
Ortiz said he was proud of Oakhurst’s effort to overcome a slow start.
“I didn’t break well. I wanted to be in contact with him [Prat] and I was pretty close,” said Ortiz. “I followed him as long as I could and when it was time to run, I went outside of him and both fillies made a nice run home. I was very happy with the run my filly gave me.”
Eminent Victor will likely make her next start at Saratoga Race Course. While the Grade 3, $175,000 Lake George on July 22 may come up too quickly, Brown said she could target a stretch-out in the Grade 3, $700,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational on August 7 or in the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake Placid on August 20.
“We’ll have to see how she comes out. Obviously, the first stake comes up really quick,” said Brown. “I don’t know if she put her hat in the ring for the Saratoga Oaks at a mile and three sixteenths, if she’ll go that far. Flavien certainly thinks she’ll stretch out. That’s a bit of a jump off a mile race, but you always have the Lake Placid at a mile and a sixteenth later in the meet.”
Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, Eminent Victor was a debut winner sprinting five furlongs over Arlington Park’s synthetic last July for former trainer Michael Puhich. She was then privately purchased and made a big step up in class for her first start against winners in the Grade 1 Natalma where she closed from well off the pace and went seven-wide to come up just 3 1/2 lengths short of the win, chasing home the victorious Wild Beauty and subsequent Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Pizza Bianca.
She now boasts a 3-2-0-1 record and boosted her total career earnings to $104,317.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a nine-race card, featuring the $100,000 Dancin Renee in Race 8. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.
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