Sweet Melania trumps the competition in Keeneland's Jessamine

October 09, 2019 04:10pm

In the final Breeders' Cup Challenge race of the season, Sweet Melania rolled home a convincing 5 1/2-length winner of Keeneland's Grade 2, $200,000 Jessamine Stakes (G2) on Wednesday to secure a spot in next month's Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita.

With Jose Ortiz in the irons, Sweet Melania moved to the head of the full 14-horse field on the first turn and took the competition through opening fractions of :23.29 and :48.90 for a half-mile. With 2-1 favorite Jezebel's Kitten stalking up close along the hedge, Sweet Melania completed six furlongs in 1:13.22 while starting to open up her lead entering the stretch.

Once straightened-out for the drive to the wire, Sweet Melania found another gear and drew off to win in a final time of 1:43.13 for 1 1/1-16 miles. Longshot Witez crossed the wire in second and was followed by Ask Bailey. Sweet Melania, whose 5 1/2-length winning margin was the largest in the race's history, paid $8.00. 

“The way she broke today I knew she was going to be there," Ortiz said. "In the first turn, I had Florent (Geroux on Jezebel’s Kitten) trail me, and (Sweet Melania) was a little keen. As soon as I completely got the lead, she relaxed well and I cruised to the quarter pole. When I asked her to go, she switched leads and gave me a great turn of foot.”

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Sweet Melania lost her first two starts when trying dirt but has found her home on the grass. She broke her maiden in her turf debut at Saratoga in July and followed with a narrow neck defeat in the PG Johnson Stakes at Saratoga.

Sweet Melania is a daughter of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah out of the Discreet Cat mare Sweet and Discreet. She was purchased at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale for $600,000 by owners Robert and Lawana Low. 

It's now on to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Lows are confident. 

"I really think she's ready," Robert Low said. "We're really excited to go to California. 


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