Three weeks after riding the undefeated Halfbridled to victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, Julie Krone was introduced to another top 2-year-old filly at Hollywood Park. Next to last after half a mile, Krone roused Victory U.S.A. at the head of the stretch for a seven-length win in the $100,000 Moccasin Stakes.
Afterward, Krone danced the diplomatic sidestep when asked to compare Halfbridled and Victory U.S.A. "I'm not going to say," she said. "I'm not going to go there."
For now, the answer has been furnished in the most reliable place, on the racetrack. Victory U.S.A. has finished third twice against Halfbridled, losing by nearly three lengths in the Breeders' Cup, on a day when Jerry Bailey rode her. While Victory U.S.A. is expected to run in the Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 21, closing day at Hollywood Park, Halfbridled won't run until the winter meet at Santa Anita.
Krone, who won two races Saturday at Aqueduct, making her first New York appearance in about five years, was suspended for the first three days of the Hollywood meet, which opened Tuesday. After sweeping the first three races on Sunday's card, the last of which was the Moccasin, Krone added a fourth win and just missed a fifth when Secret Caper nosed out My Honey Bunny in the seventh race.
Victory U.S.A., owned by Tom Van Meter II, was bought for $525,000 at auction in February, before she had run a race. In her first start, the Bob Baffert trainee broke her maiden at Del Mar in August, then had two thirds and a second in three Grade I races before the ungraded Moccasin.
Victory U.S.A., running seven furlongs in 1:22 2/5, paid $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10. Of the $832,703 bet in the win, place and show pools, $656,065 was bet to show, and $625,078 of that was bet on Victory U.S.A. To guarantee bettors a return of five cents on the dollar, the track, off-track betting sites and the state of California had to add $115,657 to the show pool.
Quanah County finished second, two lengths ahead of Hot Weekend, in the six-horse field. Quanah County led until Victory U.S.A. shifted into high gear.
"I didn't think I was very far back early, but then when I looked at it again, I was pretty far back," Krone said. "But I wasn't concerned. She had a little breather going into the turn, and then when I chirped to her, she took off."
Comic Truth, winless in five starts this year, ran away with the $150,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park, winning by 10 lengths as the 9-10 favorite, Excessivepleasure, finished second. Excessivepleasure beat Comic Truth by 3 1/2 lengths while winning the Indiana Derby in October.
Hard Buck, ridden by Brice Blanc, scored an 11-1 upset, winning the $172,800 River City Handicap byhalf a length over Warleigh at Churchill Downs. Sharbayan, the 9-5 favorite, finished fifth and his four-race win streak ended.
Hard Buck, a Brazilian-bred 4-year-old colt, is undefeated in three U.S. grass starts, which have come at Kentucky tracks. Dr. Kashnikow, who had won the River City the last two years, was scratched because of a 103-degree fever.