Victory Ride. Sara Louise scores for Godolphin

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Sara Louise looked like another classy addition to the Godolphin stablelate last year thanks to two wins in four starts, a $550,000 yearlingpricetag and boundless potential.

And then she arrived in Dubai this winter.

“She was bought late in the fall, so she didn’t get over there with the others in the shedrow until late,” said Rick Mettee, Godolphin’s American assistant. “It was late January, something like that, and by the time she got there she was very light and just didn’t look good. She had no color, she just didn’t do well over the winter for some reason.”

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor opted not to push the daughter of Malibu Moon and she accompanied the stable back to America this spring without running – without doing much of anything. Suroor called that decision a blessing, as Sara Louise overwhelmed eight rivals to win Saturday’s $110,000 Victory Ride (Gr. III) in her first start for the stable and first start in exactly nine months.

“She is a classy filly,” bin Suroor said. “We thought she would prove herself in a big race someday, but when she was in Dubai, she wasn’t doing as well. The break we gave her helped her.”

Sara Louise started four times as a 2-year-old in 2008, for Eldon Farm and trainer Dale Romans. She won twice, including a victory over budding superstar Rachel Alexandra in the Grade III Pocahontas at Churchill Downs Nov. 1, and was sold to Godolphin after finishing second (to Rachel Alexandra) in the Golden Rod Nov. 29.

She didn’t run again until Saturday, though she looked as polished as an older mare.

Sara Louise (Edgar Prado) broke quickly, but found a relaxed spot in fifth as Bold Union zipped the first quarter-mile in 21.95 seconds thanks to pressure from Juliet’s Spirit. Fourth after a half-mile in 44.81, Sara Louise rallied four wide off the turn and won by 2 lengths in 1:09.66 over a sloppy track. Bold Union stayed for second with Juliet’s Spirit third.

“The plan was to break real good, then sit on her and see if she would settle and she did,” said Prado. “They had her ready. She’s been working real steady. I rode her last year (in a maiden win at Belmont in September) and she was nice, then she beat Rachel Alexandra so that should tell you something.”

Sara Louise prepped for the Victory Ride with a solid string of works including a trio of 5-furlong moves over Saratoga’s main track Aug. 6, 13 and 21.

The last horse to finish in front of Rachel Alexandra in a race, Sara Louise trails far behind the Preakness and Haskell winner in terms of achievements but is at least back on the road to bigger things.

“She’s only run five times so she’s missed a lot of the races she could have run in – the Test might have been a spot for her – so we’ll see what happens now,” said Mettee. “She obviously appreciated the time, because as soon as she got back to Belmont, she really came around.”