LEXINGTON, KY. — NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. -- This time last year, Mary Eppler trained one of the top 2-year-olds in the country.
Traitor had won the Grade I Futurity Stakes and finished second in the Grade I Moet Champagne Stakes -- both at Belmont Park. He was an early favorite for the Kentucky Derby.
But this year wasn't kind to Traitor. A freak accident in Florida and a torn suspensory ligament forced him to the sideline shortly before the Preakness Stakes. (Traitor is back in light training; see the "On Horse Racing" column on this page.)
Now, Eppler has another promising 2-year-old colt in her barn at Pimlico.
Yesterday, Victory Gallop won his second straight stakes at Colonial Downs, the $100,000 Chenery Stakes. He outran the highly regarded Fight For M'Lady, an undefeated colt from New Jersey trained by Ben Perkins Jr.
Is Victory Gallop another Traitor?
"He might be," Eppler said.
Is he one of the top 2-year-olds in the country?
"He's right up there at the top, I believe," Eppler said.
Like Traitor, Victory Gallop is a son of Cryptoclearance. His Florida owners have not pressured Eppler to run him in Grade I races and risk overextending the horse, Eppler said. On the other hand, she added, Speriamo Stable is known for selling horses, and Victory Gallop is a desirable package.
But for now he is Eppler's to prepare for perhaps the $100,000 Grade III Laurel Futurity on Nov. 1 or the $200,000 Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov. 30, she said. The Breeders' Cup Juvenile might even be a long-shot possibility, she said.
Before 6,355 fans, the third-largest crowd so far at Colonial Downs, Victory Gallop won the one-mile Chenery with the kind of powerful late kick that might signal a classics horse. He ran by Fight For M'Lady, ridden by Julie Krone, down Colonial Downs' long homestretch and prevailed by three-quarters of a length.
Ridden by Mark Johnston, Victory Gallop paid $5.60 as the second favorite behind 7-5 Fight For M'Lady, who held on for second.
In an earlier race, the $30,000 John D. Marsh Stakes for Virginia-breds, Mosarl Pzar lost for the first time at Colonial Downs. He had won three straight for Pimlico-based trainer Earl L. Stone, who owns the 3-year-old gelding with Teri M. Bruffey. Mosarl Pzar finished last in a race won by the New York invader, Land Boom.
Countess Diana wins
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Maryland-bred Countess Diana furthered her claim to the 2-year-old filly championship at Keeneland with a 2 3/4 -length victory in the $430,000 Walmac International Alcibiades Stakes.
Jockey Shane Sellers sent Countess Diana to the front at the start of the 1 1/16-mile race and the daughter of Deerhound came home in 1: 45 1/5 for her fourth victory in five career starts. She earned $266,600.
Long shot Lily O'Gold rallied from fourth-place early in the race to finish second, a head in front of previously undefeated and 1-2 favorite Beautiful Pleasure.
Countess Diana, a daughter of Deerhound who stands at Murmur Farm in Darlington, Ky., added the Alcibiades to victories in the Grade I Spinaway and Grade II Schuylerville Stakes in her past two starts at Saratoga Race Track.
Second choice in the wagering, Countess Diana paid $5.40, $3.80 and $2.10.
Lily O'Gold, ridden by Willie Martinez, returned $14.20 and $2.10. Beautiful Pleasure, with Jerry Bailey up, paid $2.10 to show.
Countess Diana is expected to be one of the favorites in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Hollywood Park on Nov. 8.
Md.-bred 'Dixie' third
NEW YORK -- Top Secret outlasted fast-closing favorite Aldiza to win by a head yesterday in the fourth running of the $82,100, Grade III Gallant Bloom Handicap for fillies and mares 3 years and older.
Aldiza, who came from far back in the seven-horse field, was a neck ahead of Maryland-bred Dixie Flag.
The win was the third in six starts this year for Top Secret, who returned $9.10, $3.90 and $2.50.
Aldiza paid $3.10 and $2.20 and Dixie Flag, the 3-year-old daughter of Dixieland Band and Thirty Flags owned by Allaire DuPont's Bohemia Stable, was $2.60.
Pub Date: 10/12/97