05/28/2005 12:00AM

Thrilling Victory on a roll


ALBANY, Calif. - Just how good is Thrilling Victory?

The 3-year-old filly, who began her career less than four months ago in a $16,000 maiden claimer, has won 4 of 5 career starts.

She's won sprinting. She's won routing. She's won on the dirt. She's won on the turf. She won a stakes, the Bay Meadows Oaks, in her last start.

will be bidding for her fourth straight victory Monday as she tackles seven other 3-year-old fillies in the $100,000 Golden Poppy Breeders' Cup at one mile on the turf.

Once again, she'll have to catch Jill's Sky, as she did in the Bay Meadows Oaks on April 16. Jill's Sky, the odds-on favorite that day, grabbed the lead and rated nicely. She opened breathing room in the lane but was caught in the final strides by the relentless Thrilling Victory.

Going only one mile Sunday instead of 1 1/16 miles may help Jill's Sky to hold on better.

Thrilling Victory has answered every question asked her by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Her lone career loss was a second-place finish to the talented Jewels of Bagdad.

Going into the Bay Meadows Oaks, Hollendorfer's lone concern was how Thrilling Victory would handle the turf.

"I hope she handles this course just as well," Hollendorfer said. "This course has been good, and horses seem to handle it well."

Hollendorfer bought Thrilling Victory, an Event of the Year filly, for $35,000 at the May 2004 Barretts sale. He still has no second thoughts about debuting her for $16,000.

"At the time, it was the appropriate thing to do off what she did and showed going into the race," he said.

Thrilling Victory, who has been ridden by Russell Baze in all five of her starts, will have Baze aboard Monday. She will meet three other stakes winners.

Despite drawing the outside post 8, Hollendorfer is quite confident going into Monday's race.

"I think Russell likes being out there," he said. "He can do whatever he wants to with her."

Thrilling Victory has had six works in the six weeks since her last start, including a pair of bullet drills.

Hollendorfer said he has no special strategy for Monday's race, but it looks as if Thrilling Victory's job is pretty simple: stalk and pounce, just like last time.