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ELMONT, NY – Robert and Lawana Low’s Sweet Melania made her return with a bang, taking her rivals all the way around in Saturday’s $150,000 Wonder Again Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park.
Breaking well from post 2 under Jose Ortiz as the 6/5 favorite, Sweet Melania went to the lead and ran uncontested, posting comfortable opening fractions of :24.15 and :47.62
Still in hand turning for home, Sweet Melania kicked into high gear at the top of the stretch and drew off under only mild urging. The Todd Pletcher trainee crossed 1 1/2 lengths ahead in a final time of 1:34.23 for the mile-long firm turf event.
“She relaxed well and we started picking it up little-by-little,” said Ortiz, who also won the 2019 edition. “At the 3/16 pole, she gave me a nice kick. She’s a nice filly.”
Highland Glory made a late move in the stretch to overtake Antoinette for second. Speaktomeofsummer and Selflessly (who stumbled out of the gate) completed the order of finish.
Sweet Melania’s win was her second at the graded stakes level, having won last October’s Jessamine Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, and improved her overall record to 7-3-1-3 with $376,500 earned. The 3-year-old American Pharoah filly was making her first start since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
“Analyzing the race beforehand, it looked as though she had a pace advantage,” said Pletcher. “We weren’t going to put her on the lead, we felt that she would naturally get herself there. Jose did a nice job of hashing it out and she responded well.”
Sweet Melania returned $4.60 to win and $2.80 to place, while Highland Glory paid $3.60 to place. There was no show betting.
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