01/03/2012 1:29PM

Aqueduct: Union Victory could prove a good buy


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Bruce Levine said he didn’t mind paying twice as much as he had to in order to obtain Union Victory. Given the elevated purses in New York these days, it becomes a lot easier to make a quicker and more lucrative return on one’s investment.

Five weeks after claiming Union Victory for $50,000, Levine and owners Roddy Valente, Thomas Lemme, and Charles Casale can recoup almost all of that investment Thursday when Union Victory runs in the $75,000 Xtra Heat, a stakes restricted to 3-year-old fillies who have started for a claiming price. The Xtra Heat, contested at six furlongs over the inner track, was originally scheduled for Monday, but did not have enough entries to be carded. McCarren Park, who beat Union Victory on Nov. 16, was not among the original entrants, but is entered for Thursday.

Union Victory, a daughter of Indian Charlie, debuted in a $25,000 claimer for trainer Linda Rice on Nov. 16 at Aqueduct. She was part of a three-way speed duel and hung in until the final sixteenth before giving way to McCarren Park, who was making her fourth career start. Trainer Patricia Farro, based at Parx, claimed Union Victory out of that race.

Farro shipped Union Victory back to New York two weeks later, where she won a $50,000 claimer by a length over the inner track. In that race, Union Victory ducked out after getting bumped at the start, chased the pacesetting Last Minute Rose, and prevailed despite drifting out under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.’s left-handed whip. Levine won a four-way shake to claim Union Victory.

“I’ve never claimed a first-time starter,” Levine said when asked if he considered taking Union Victory in her debut for half the price. “I’ve claimed a lot of horses after one start. I don’t mind giving a guy $25,000 more when they run first time like she did. She’s an Indian Charlie filly who ran gutsy first time.”

Levine felt that Union Victory ran just “so-so” in her second start but thought there were several reasons for that.

“She drifted and ducked out when he hit her,” Levine said. “She was running back quick, and she probably went down to Philly, then vanned back up. She’s not the biggest thing. I’m hoping she’ll move forward off that race.”

David Cohen will ride Union Victory from post 2.

Singlet will likely be sent off the favorite. While Singlet did run in a claiming race, the price tag was $150,000 at Saratoga on Aug. 5. She won that race over three next-out winners. Meanwhile, Singlet finished second in a $122,000 stakes race at Monmouth before winning a first-level allowance at Parx on Nov. 27.

Singlet, trained by Tony Dutrow, will likely be pressing the pace under Ramon Dominguez from the outside post in the five-horse field.

Wild American, claimed out of a win for $12,500 on Dec. 20, and Torchme, who has won twice for a $25,000 claiming price, complete the field.