04/14/2005 12:00AM

Miss Victory tries stakes


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Maria V. Pascual couldn't wait to run the Argentinian-bred sprint sensation Miss Victory after spending all winter preparing the mare for her United States debut. Pascual's patience was rewarded when Miss Victory overcame a slow start to post a game neck victory over Our Exploit in an allowance race going five furlongs over the Gulfstream Park turf course on March 27.

Now Pascual is looking forward to getting , a Group 1 stakes winner in Argentine, her first stakes win in this country when she sends the 6-year-old out against 10 rivals in Saturday's $50,000 Bob Slater Stakes. The five-furlong turf dash is the final event on Gulfstream's 2005 stakes schedule.

Miss Victory quickly assumed striking position after breaking a bit late in her U.S. debut, then outfinished Our Exploit to win the race, her first start in nine months. The victory was the 13th in 25 career starts for Miss Victory, a daughter of Numerous whose Group 1 victory came on dirt last summer in Argentina.

"She will run on any surface, slop, dirt or turf," said Pascual, who has saddled eight winners here this meet. "But she can only go five or maybe six furlongs, nothing more."

Our Exploit, Melody of Colors, Ahuriri Hikawai, and Platinum Perfect all chased Miss Victory home last month, but with a little racing luck any of them could certainly reverse the outcome on Saturday.

finished fifth, beaten less than a length by Miss Victory, in the pair's first meeting. She took the worst of the trip, though, having to steady a couple of times from the quarter pole to the wire while appearing to be full of run. The outing was the first in 10 weeks for Ahuriri Hikawai, a New Zealand-bred mare whose only victory in this country came 11 months ago under similar conditions at Churchill Downs.

Our Exploit finished willingly from between horses and won a three-horse photo for second. It was her first race at as short a distance as five furlongs since the fall. A daughter of Exploit, she has finished off the board just once in six starts on grass.

, a one-length winner of the 2004 Bob Slater, surprisingly fell back to the rear of the pack before finishing strongly to finish fourth in her 2005 debut. A five-furlong grass specialist, she has 5 wins and 6 seconds in 17 starts at the distance.