Virginia Joy wins G2 Sheepshead Bay with ease

May 7, 2022

ELMONT, N.Y. – Virginia Joy led each step of the way to earn her second consecutive graded stakes victory for four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay for older fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles over the inner turf at Belmont Park

Owned by Peter Brant, Virginia Joy made her second start off an eight-month respite that ended with an off-the-pace victory in the Grade 3 The Very One last time out on March 5 at Gulfstream Park. The 5-year-old Soldier Hollow mare began her career in 2019 in her native Germany and won the 2020 Group 3 Mehl-Mullins Trophy before moving stateside in early 2021. 

Virginia Joy, piloted from the outermost post 4 by Trevor McCarthy, broke sharply and quickly took command as the compact field crossed the wire for the first time. Lovely Lucky with Dylan Davis in the irons pursued in second with the Hector Diaz, Jr.-piloted Luck Money in third over the yielding course. 

Virginia Joy continued to lead entering the backstretch while setting a moderate pace, prompting Davis to make an early move aboard Lovely Lucky and keep the 6-year-old mare in contention by closing the 2 1/2-length gap between her and Virginia Joy. McCarthy remained steady aboard Virginia Joy, holding a half-length advantage through three-quarters.

Lovely Lucky came under urging from Davis in the turn while Diaz, Jr. asked Luck Money for more from third. Virginia Joy remained in hand, quickly separating herself from her foes with a shake of the reins from McCarthy. 

Virginia Joy continued to widen her margin down the stretch and was wrapped up near the sixteenth pole, crossing the wire 14 1/4 lengths the better of the late-closing Luck Money in a final time of 2:30.88. It was another 6 1/2 lengths back to Lovely Lucky in third with Sister Otoole completing the order of finish. Mia Martina was scratched. 

McCarthy praised the effort from Virginia Joy, who came bounding home through the rain. 

“That just brightened things up a little bit,” McCarthy said with a laugh. “She’s a nice filly and the best filly in the race. There wasn’t a lot of speed in there. I just decided to put her up in the race and take control of the race. She handled the ground half decent and the others probably didn’t want that kind of ground, so that benefitted her even more.” 

Diaz, Jr. said Luck Money tried her best over the wet going.

“She handled it the best she could,” Diaz, Jr. said. “She ran good and I’m happy with her. She gave me what she had.”

Bred in Germany Gestut Auenquelle, Virginia Joy earned $110,000 for her victory and improved her lifetime record to 11-5-2-1. A $2 win wager returned $2.90. 

Live racing continues Sunday at Belmont with a nine-race card featuring the Grade 2, $200,000 Ruffian in Race 8. First post is 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

By Mary Eddy/NYRA Press Offfice

Photo: Susie Raisher

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