04/15/2005 11:00PM

Thrilling Victory adapts to turf

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Thrilling Victory, who benefitted from her entrymate Laguna Pointe keeping favored pacesetter Jill's Sky honest on the front end, scored her first stakes victory in the $69,725 Bay Meadows Oaks on Saturday at Bay Meadows.

Thrilling Victory ($5.40) sat off the pace down the backstretch. She moved out in the lane and prevailed by a neck after a stretch-long duel in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies. Her winning time was 1:44.68.

"What a sweetheart," winning rider Russell Baze said. "She wasn't really handling the turf. She was bobbling and stumbling, but about halfway around the second turn, she finally got the hang of it and started making up ground."

A $35,000 Barretts purchase last May, Thrilling Victory has won 4 of 5 career starts and increased her earnings to $84,450.

Thrilling Victory debuted for a $16,000 maiden claiming tag because trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said she wasn't showing much prior to that Feb. 4 race.

"Sometimes horses improve after racing," Hollendorfer said. "She had been nominated to a Cal-bred race at Hollywood Park next week, but if you can run a race in your backyard, we prefer to do that. It wasn't like the purse was small. She gets a Cal-bred bonus so it was worth it. We wanted to try her on the turf because she has decent turf pedigree numbers."

Thrilling Victory's entrymate, Laguna Point, ran third.

"Now she's stakes-placed, so we're pleased," Hollendorfer said.