LOUISVILLE, KY – Gary Barber and John C. Oxley’s Road to Victory wore down Monomoy Girl at the wire in a thrilling rendition of the Grade 2, $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs.
The pair of juvenile fillies broke well alongside each other, with Road to Victory out of post 5 under Julien Leparoux and Monomoy Girl out of post 6 under Florent Geroux, and immediately took the lead. Monomoy Girl held a slight advantage at each split of :23.81, :46.87, and 1:11.11. Monomoy Girl appeared to shake free with a furlong remaining, but Road to Victory dug in gamely to prevail by a neck in a final time of 1:43.36 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“We sat in the right spot throughout the race,” Leparoux said. “I didn’t want the leader to get too far away from us. She tried really hard and came back at the end. We felt she didn’t need the lead but relaxed in second. We knew the favorite would be on the lead and we just ran her down.”
The duo finished 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Cash Out, who never threatened the leaders before finishing third. Dessert Honeys, Ipanema Beach, Sultry, Stronger Than Ever, Foxtrot Sally, Caroline the Great, Kelly’s Humor, Undivided, and Deadline completed the order of finish.
The Golden Rod is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Road to Victory earned 10 points for the win, with Monomoy Girl receiving 4 for second, Cash Out 2 for third, and Dessert Honeys 1 for fourth.
Trained by Mark Casse, the 2-year-old daughter of Quality Road broke her maiden in October over Woodbine’s synthetic surface in her only other career start.
“You don’t know how they’ll take to the dirt until they run the race,” said Casse’s son and assistant, Norm. “Dad sent her down here to see if she was a quality dirt horse and she’s had no bad days since we’ve had her. She prepared so well for this race. It’s extra rewarding to win 2-year-old stakes races because it’s a testament to our program. I take a lot of pride winning on these types of races at our home track.”
Road to Victory returned $16.40 to win, $6.80 to place, and $6.80 to show. Monomoy Girl brought back $2.80 to place and $2.40 to show, while Cash Out paid $8.40 to show.