09/18/2016 5:14PM

Victory to Victory gives Casse seventh Natalma Stakes victory

Michael Burns
Victory to Victory, ridden by Florent Geroux, earns a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf by winning the Natalma by 2 1/2 lengths.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario—Victory to Victory punched her ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with a determined come-from-behind score under Florent Geroux in the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday.

A hot pace, set by Will She, materialized in the one-mile turf event. With blinkers added, Victory to Victory ($17.70) raced in sixth on the outside for much of the way, and then made up ground to hit the front around the three-sixteenths pole.

Stormy Perfection closed strongly on the outside from 11th to take dead aim at Victory to Victory in midstretch, but Victory to Victory repelled the bid and went on to prevail by 2 1/2 lengths, in a time of 1:35.24 over the firm ground.

Beat the Benchmark finished third, and Thora Barber was fourth. Red Lodge, the 7-2 favorite, stalked in second before fading to 12th, and 4-1 second choice Enstone trailed the 14-horse field.

Geroux won last year’s Natalma on the future Canadian champion Catch a Glimpse for trainer Mark Casse, and Victory to Victory gave Casse a record seventh win in the event.

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“It helps to know when your horse is pretty much push-button,” said Geroux. “She broke very sharply from the gate. From there, I took a nice position, without taking any bumping. She settled very nicely, and turning for home, she gave me a very nice kick. The blinkers helped today. It made the difference. She [ran] spotty in her first two races.”

Assistant trainer Norm Casse said Victory to Victory would likely run back in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf in November at Santa Anita, since she earned a paid trip to the race in the Natalma.

“We’ll have to see how she comes out of the race, but I’d have to think that’s what the goal is,” said Casse. “We think she’s a really talented horse. She was well-meant from the very beginning. At Churchill, we thought enough of her to send her to Saratoga. As Florent alluded to, she was spotty early on, and I think the blinkers made a big difference. We knew she was a talented horse, and she’s finally starting to figure things out.”

Victory to Victory, a daughter of the late Exchange Rate, earned $150,000 of the $253,400 purse for Live Oak Plantation.