07/09/2017 5:55PM

American Gal shakes off stumble, wins Victory Ride

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Despite a few anxious moments at the start, American Gal left little doubt who was best in Sunday’s $150,000 Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont Park, drawing off to a popular and very convincing 4 3/4-length decision over Vertical Oak and three other overmatched rivals in the Grade 3 dash for 3-year-old fillies.

Making her first start since a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Starlet seven months earlier, American Gal stumbled shortly after the break of the 6 1/2-furlong Victory Ride. But she was able to recover quickly under jockey Flavien Prat to take a narrow lead in the run down the backstretch while flanked to her inside by Too Much Tip and on the outside by both Noble Freud and Vertical Oak. Once settling into the stretch, American Gal asserted her superiority, steadily pulling away to her third victory in five starts, and the first graded stakes win of her career.  

Despite being hung wide throughout, Vertical Oak held on to finish second, a neck in front of a tiring Noble Freud. Golden Mischief and Too Much Tip completed the order of finish.

American Gal, owned by her breeder Kaleen Shah and stabled at Santa Anita with trainer Simon Callaghan, completed the distance in 1:17.38 over a firm course and paid $4.50.

“When she stumbled at the break, then got up in between horses into a legitimate pace, I was a bit concerned,” said Callaghan, who watched the Victory Ride from California. “I was afraid after breaking like that, it would be tough for her to win. The way she drew off after that, I thought it was a huge performance. I’m very proud of her to win like that off the layoff. You could see a big upturn in her last four or five works, she seemed to be getting better and better. She’s just a really top-class filly.”

Callaghan said although American Gal, a daughter of Concord Point, was Grade 1-placed twice at 2 going 1 1/16 miles, he will most likely keep her racing at distances between 6 1/2 and 7 furlongs in the future.

“I think those distances hit her right between the eyes,” Callaghan said. “Right now the plan is to bring her back home to California, then return to New York for the Grade 1 Test later this summer at Saratoga.”