Australasia Puts Undefeated Record On The Line In Saturday’s Victory Ride

Trainer Brad Cox will send out a pair of contenders entering off last-out stakes wins, as Australasia and Inject will compete as part of an eight-horse field of sophomore fillies in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride at 6 1/2 furlongs on the Belmont Park main track.

The 19th edition of the Victory Ride is one of three stakes on the final Saturday of the Belmont spring/summer meet, bolstering a pair of Grade 1 turf contests going 1 1/4-miles, with the $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational for 3-year-olds and the $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-old fillies. Both of those contests are the first legs of NYRA’s Turf Triple series for sophomores.

Magnifico Stable’s Australasia brings an undefeated record through six starts into her graded stakes debut. The Sky Kingdom filly took to Belmont’s Big Sandy in her first appearance over the track, besting fellow Victory Ride-rival Bella Sofia by one length in the six-furlong Jersey Girl on June 6, earning a personal-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

The Louisiana-bred won her only start of her juvenile year in November at Fair Grounds and is 5-for-5 this year at four tracks, racking up restricted stakes scores in the Louisiana Jewel and the LA Bred Premier Starlet at Delta Downs before winning the Crescent City Oaks at Fair Grounds. A win against open allowance company in April at Churchill Downs set up her successful effort at Belmont. Since the Jersey Girl victory, Australasia has continued to train at the Elmont-based track, breezing four furlongs in 48.63 seconds on Monday.

Joel Rosario will have the call from post 7.

Her stablemate, Louis Wright’s Inject, has won her last two starts, including her first stakes triumph with a 5 1/4-length blowout in the six-furlong Goldfinch on May 15 at Prairie Meadows. The daughter of Frosted was a $390,000 purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and has started her career with a 3-2-1 ledger through her first eight starts.
Tyler Gaffalione will ride from post 2.

Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Sensational will be competing against graded stakes company for a fourth consecutive race. Trained by Hall of Famer Mark Casse, Souper Sensational went 2-for-2 as a juvenile at Woodbine, including a four-length score in the seven-furlong Glorious Song on the all-weather track.

Since then, Souper Sensational earned black type twice as a sophomore, finishing second in the Silvebulletday in January at Fair Grounds and third in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks in March.

Last out, Souper Sensational, with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez aboard, ran fourth in the Grade 2 Eight Belles going seven furlongs on April 30 at Churchill Downs.

“She’s doing very well and Johnny rode her last time for us and kind of got hung up a little bit, but she hung in and ran well,” Casse said. “She’s coming into the race well and should run well. I don’t think the distance this time will be a problem.”

Flavien Prat will pick up the mount from post 5.

Team D and Madaket Stables’ Miss Brazil ran third as the mutuel favorite in the Jersey Girl, just one length back to Australasia and will step up to graded stakes company for the first time after earning Beyers of 90 or better in four of her six starts for trainer Tony Dutrow.

The daughter of Palace Malice bested optional claimers on April 23 at Belmont in her last start at the Victory Ride distance and will have the services of Jose Ortiz from post 3.

“She seems to be doing very well coming into the race and we’re very happy with her,” Dutrow said. “The Jersey Girl didn’t go perfect for us, but that’s just a day in the office. She came out of it well and she’s training well for the Victory Ride. Anywhere from six furlongs to a mile, I don’t think it really matters to her.”

The runner up in the Jersey Girl, Bella Sofia, will be making her third career start. The Rudy Rodriguez trainee coasted to an 11 1/4-length debut win on May 6 and was moved up in class exactly one month later where she finished one length behind Australasia and edged Miss Brazil by a head for second.

Owned by Michael Imperio and Vincent Scuderi, Bella Sofia is a daughter of Awesome Patriot. After working four furlongs in 49.43 seconds on Sunday over Belmont’s training track, she will now break from the inside post with Manny Franco set to ride.

“She breezed Sunday on the training track and it was nice and solid,” Rodriguez said. “The horses in the field are already seasoned, but she did good against them last time. The last race was very good for her. She has decent ability, so hopefully we can get lucky.”

Douglas Scharbauer’s Red Ghost has won three of her four starts, including two in a row following her victory by a nose over next-out allowance winner Euphoric in the Grade 3 Miss Preakness on May 14. The Ghostzapper filly who began her career with an off-the-turf 8 1/2-length score in August at Saratoga for trainer Wesley Ward, will return to New York for the first time since that effort, breaking from post 6 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard.

Rounding out the field is Kinsman Stable’s Shop Girl, second in the Any Limit in March last out for trainer Christophe Clement at Gulfstream Park [outermost post 8, Hall of Famer Javier Castellano]; and Brittlyn Stable’s Ova Charged, making her first stakes race after starting 2-for-2 for trainer Jose Camejo [post 4, Luis Saez].

The Victory Ride is slated as Race 8 on Saturday’s 11-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.

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