10/01/2003 11:00PM

Long trip to Frizette for Victory U. S. A.


ELMONT, N.Y. - It is testament to the brilliance of Halfbridled that trainer Bob Baffert decided to ship Victory U. S. A. cross-country for Saturday's $500,000 Frizette at Belmont Park. Victory U.S.A.'s presence in the Grade 1 race for 2-year-old fillies could add credence to - or perhaps dispel - the notion that the West Coast juvenile fillies are superior to those on the East.

Victory U. S. A. will meet Grade 1 winners Ashado and Marylebone and promising babies Daydreaming and Eye Dazzler in the 56th running of the Frizette, a race that has produced seven of the 19 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winners.

Victory U. S. A., a daughter of Victory Gallop, won her maiden at Del Mar on Aug. 3 by six lengths. Four weeks later, she finished a well-beaten third as the 3-5 favorite behind Halfbridled in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante. Halfbridled came back to romp in last week's Oak Leaf at Santa Anita to establish herself as the strong favorite in the Juvenile Fillies.

Baffert figured he didn't need to run Victory U. S. A. against Halfbridled before the Breeder's Cup, so he shipped her here. Unfortunately, Victory U. S. A. did not have a smooth trip to New York. The plane made unscheduled stops in Louisiana and Kentucky and the filly spent Tuesday night in Kentucky. She arrived here Wednesday afternoon and "seems no worse for the wear," according to Tonja Terranova, who oversees the Baffert-trained runners in New York.

"I like the way she's training," Baffert said earlier this week. "Hopefully, that trip doesn't take too much out of her."

Jerry Bailey will ride Victory U. S. A. from post 4.

Though Ashado and Marylebone have combined to go 5 for 5 with three stakes wins, neither has received much hype. Ashado, a daughter of Saint Ballado, earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure, winning her maiden in the slop at Belmont in June, and followed that with professional victories in Saratoga's Schuylerville and Spinaway Stakes.

"She's pretty straightforward, very professional," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "She's great around the barn, a quiet filly who is a little bit unassuming. She'll do whatever you ask her to do in the morning."

Jose Santos takes over for Edgar Prado, who is riding at Keeneland Saturday.

Though Pletcher believes Marylebone got enough seasoning in winning her first two starts, he is leaning toward running her back in the Frizette. A mile and a sixteenth should be no problem for the late-running Marylebone, who will break from post six under Mike Luzzi.

Trainer Shug McGaughey has won the Frizette five times, including last year with Storm Flag Flying, who went on to win the Juvenile Fillies and be crowned champion. Saturday, he'll send out Daydreaming, a full sister to the stakes-winning Accelerator. Daydreaming won her maiden at Saratoga, rallying from well off the pace to win the 6 1/2-furlong race. She stumbled when finishing third as the favorite in the Spinaway and McGaughey opted to skip the Matron.

"She worked really good here before the Matron. I probably should have run her," McGaughey said.

Because of the stumble in the Spinaway, McGaughey said he "wanted to give her plenty of time to get over it. It'll probably end up being the right thing."

Eye Dazzler finished third in the Matron, but may have been compromised by a misstep she took at the three-eighths pole. Please Take Me Out, Society Selection, and Little Andrea complete the Frizette field.