October 1, 2020

Sweet Melania much the best in Jessamine

Sweet Melania easily captured the Jessamine (G2) under Jose Ortiz (Coady Photography)

What looked a competitive race on paper instead turned into a procession for Sweet Melania as the daughter of American Pharoah ran away from 13 rivals in the stretch of the $200,000 Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland on Wednesday.

The final 2019 “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, Sweet Melania earned a free berth to the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) at Santa Anita on November 1.

Engaging 2-1 favorite Jezebel’s Kitten early, Sweet Melania took the lead entering the backstretch, raced comfortably up front to the quarter pole, then kicked into another gear through the stretch to win by 5 1/2 lengths under Jose Ortiz. The final time for 1 1/16 miles on the good turf was 1:43.13.

“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.”

Owned by Robert and Lawana Low and trained by Todd Pletcher, Sweet Melania paid $8. Witez, at 45-1, and Ask Bailey, at 21-1, both rallied from near the back to finish second and third, respectively. They were separated by three-quarters of a length, with Jezebel’s Kitten 1 1/4 lengths back in fourth.

This was the second win in five starts for Sweet Melania, who finished third in a pair of races on dirt before breaking her maiden on the turf at Saratoga going 1 1/16 miles on July 14. In her most recent outing she was run down late in the $100,000 P.G. Johnson, missing by a neck to Crystalle. Sweet Melania has now earned $204,000.

Bred in Kentucky by St Elias Stables, Sweet Melania was produced by the stakes-winning Sweet N Discreet, a Discreet Cat full sister to Grade 2 winner Discreet Dancer and a half-sister to Grade 2 scorer Travelin Man. Further back in the female family are European champions Duke of Marmalade and Ruler of the World, as well as noted producer Weekend Surprise.