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Blog - RACING

Joyful Victory, the Santa Margarita favorite will be piloted by Rosie Napravnik (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)

By Bob Ehalt, America's Best Racing

It usually takes something special to keep jockey Rosie Napravnik away from a weekend card at the Fair Grounds, and in this case it’s a rather talented gray mare.

The undisputed Queen of Louisiana racing will be in California on Saturday, riding Joyful Victory in what could be the initial Grade 1 stakes victory for the 5-year-old runner.

Trained by Larry Jones, Joyful Victory heads a field of six in the $300,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita, a race that will be run at the same track and the same 1 1/8-mile distance as the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic later this year.

Ontario-bred Joyful Victory comes into the Santa Margarita off a string of solid efforts. She has not finished worse than third in her last eight starts – five of them in graded stakes - and comes off a powerful. four-length triumph in the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston Race Park.

Though Joyful Victory led throughout in that Jan. 26 victory, she does not necessarily need the lead to fire her best shot – a trait that should serve her and Napravnik well on Saturday.

The Santa Margarita has no shortage of speed with all six starters showing a tendency to run on or near the lead, and it would greatly enhance Joyful Victory’s chances if Napravnik can rate her during the early stages of the race. Napravnik did just that last September when she guided the daughter of Tapit to a runner-up finish in the Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita.

The ones to fear promise to be Great Hot and More Chocolate, both of whom are coming off stakes wins at Santa Anita over the same rival.

Great Hot won the Santa Maria Stakes on Feb. 16, beating Book Review by a half-length. Though she led from start to finish, Great Hot got away with a somewhat leisurely 48-second half-mile in the 1 1/16-mile test. Though Saturday’s pace could be slower in the longer Santa Margarita, Great Hot figures to receive more pressure on the front end, which may catch up with her in the final furlong.

More Chocolate beat Book Review by 1 ¾ lengths in the La Canada Stakes on Jan. 20 in that one’s first start since beating Eclipse Award contender My Miss Aurelia in the La Brea.

The La Canada served as More Chocolate’s first start on dirt and her positive response to the surface change clearly makes her the one to fear in Saturday’s race. Any improvement at all off that debut would make her very difficult to beat.

Brushed by a Star was second to Joyful Victory in the Houston Ladies Classic and should not be discounted in a race that that will reveal how well Rosie Napravnik plans her “vacations.” 

Ehalt’s selections

1. Joyful Victory

2. More Chocolate

3. Brushed by a Star

4. Great Hot

$300,000 Santa Margarita Invitational Stakes (G1)

March 16, Santa Anita Park, Race 7, 3:35 p.m. PDT

4-year-olds & up, fillies & mares, 1 1/8 miles

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

Trainer

1

The Only Key (GB)

K Krigger

118

D Greenman

2

Brushed by a Star (KY)

V Espinoza

120

E Kenneally

3

Joyful Victory (ON)

R Napravnik

118

J L Jones

4

Great Hot (BRZ)

G L Stevens

118

A C Avila

5

Snow Fall (KY)

T Baze

118

J Hollendorfer

6

More Chocolate (KY)

M Garcia

118

J W Sadler

Blinkers On: Snow Fall

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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