ELMONT, NY – Sporting the American flag silks of owner Kaleem Shah, American Gal and jockey Flavien Prat took the Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride Stakes in fine fashion.
The 15th running of the 6 1/2 furlong race for 3-year-old fillies was the Sunday headliner for Belmont Park’s annual Stars and Stripes Festival weekend. It traditionally serves as a prep for the 7-furlong Grade 1 Longines Test at Saratoga on August 5.
“She had worked brilliantly coming into this race, so we expected a big effort,” Shah said. “I would have been surprised if she had lost. I’m so pleased with the race, and hopefully, we go on to bigger and better things. Her next target will be the Test.”
Breaking as the 3-5 favorite from post 3 in a small yet robust field of five, the homebred American Gal rode down the backstretch and through the turn while in the middle of a four-wide pack. With a slight nose advantage, American Gal led through early splits of :22.48 and :45.84 while under pressure from Too Much Tip at the rail and Noble Freud and Vertical Oak to the outside.
Coming off of the turn, the Simon Callaghan-trained daughter of Concord Point put her nose down and went to work, dispatching of her foes and crossing the line in 1:17.38 for her first career graded stakes victory. She was 4 3/4 lengths in front of Vertical Oak, who was a neck ahead of Noble Freud. Golden Mischief and Too Much Tip completed the order of finish.
American Gal was making her first start since Shah moved her to Simon Callaghan’s barn at the beginning of the year. It was Prat’s first time aboard her after facing (and losing to) her twice before.
“Simon did a great job and she was ready to run today,” said Prat. “She stumbled a bit from the gate, then after that, when she was on the lead around the turn, she was ready.”
Shipping from California for the first time, American Gal’s prior two races saw her cross second in the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. With a record of 5-3-1-1, the winner’s share of $87,000 increased her career earnings to $407,700.
American Gal returned $4.50, $2.80, and $2.10. Vertical Oak brought back $2.90 and $2.20, while Noble Freud paid $2.60 to show.