03/08/2009 11:00PM

Bet on Victor gets test in return


ARCADIA, Calif. - An unheralded gelding from Hawthorne will try to bust into the salty local 3-year-old ranks Wednesday at Santa Anita; expectations are high for Bet on Victor.

A solid group entered race 6, an entry-level allowance sprint: Supreme Summit fired a 91 Beyer Speed Figure to win his debut at 5 1/2 furlongs; Back at You is back in form off a highly rated comeback at the level; Ventana drops from six consecutive stakes.

All but one of the 10 entrants has raced this meet; the lone shipper is the dark horse. And if new trainer Vladimir Cerin is right, Bet on Victor might be the winner.

"I think he's a really, really good horse," Cerin said. "He gallops the way good ones do, he works fast very, very easily, and he's got great action."

Bet on Victor, by Yankee Victor, has not raced since a visually impressive four-length maiden win Dec. 13 at Hawthorne. He subsequently shipped to an Ocala training center where an agent familiar with Cerin spotted Bet on Victor in January, liked what he saw, and pitched him to the trainer and longtime owners David and Holly Wilson.

"I liked his form and saw the video and liked the video," Cerin said.

He did not reveal a purchase price; a typical range is anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000 for a 3-year-old gelding that scored a big-fig victory in his only start.

So far, Cerin likes what he has seen. Bet on Victor will add blinkers, unusual for a horse that won his last start.

"The stewards asked the same thing," Cerin said. "He seems much more focused. We've worked him with blinkers and without them, and he's much better with blinkers."

The Wednesday sprint came up surprisingly short on pace. It might be a challenge for Bet on Victor's jockey, Joel Rosario, to ration a fresh comebacker with speed who is adding blinkers.

"I would rather he come from a little bit off the pace," Cerin said.

Supreme Summit is trained by Doug O'Neill. His 91 Beyer makes him the high-figure horse, and he is quick enough to set the pace from the rail. The main knock is that O'Neill-trained debut winners are frequently overbet in their first try against winners.

Back at You finished second by a half-length in his comeback, a race won by the improving 3-year-old New Bay, who will run this weekend in the Pasadena or San Felipe.