The 2023 edition of the $500,000 Test (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday will be a race long remembered at the historic spa course, but for entirely the wrong reasons.
Multiple graded stakes winner Maple Leaf Mel, who entered the seven-furlong dash for three-year-old fillies undefeated from five starts, appeared on her way to victory in the final yards of the Test when she suffered a catastrophic injury to her right foreleg and fell just before the finish line.
Jockey Joel Rosario was able to get back on his feet and was transported to a local medical facility for further evaluation and treatment for facial abrasions. However, Maple Leaf Mel was euthanized due to the severity of her injuries.
Rallying for a seeming runner-up placing at the time of the accident was Pretty Mischievous, who instead wound up the winner of the Test under Tyler Gaffalione, thus solidifying her position at the top of this season’s three-year-old filly class following earlier wins in the Rachel Alexandra (G2), Kentucky Oaks (G1), and Acorn (G1).
“I don’t want to say a lot, to be honest. I’d rather leave it,” said Brendan Walsh, who trains Pretty Mischievous for owner-breeder Godolphin. “It’s just cruel what happened.
“My filly ran her race, but that’s another story. I don’t know what to think right now.”
Pretty Mischievous’ official margin of victory was a head over 17-1 longshot Clearly Unhinged, with Munnys Gold 1 3/4 lengths behind in third. Dorth Vader, Jersey Pearl, and Tappin Josie completed the order of finish. Maple Leaf Mel had led every yard of the Test until her accident.
The Test was the seventh win in nine career stars for Pretty Mischievous, who won the Untapable S. at Fair Grounds and finished third in the Golden Rod (G2) in two stakes appearances as a juvenile. Her only setback this year was a runner-up placing in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).
A Kentucky-bred, Pretty Mischievous is by Into Mischief and out of the Spinaway (G1) heroine Pretty City Dancer, a Tapit half-sister to Grade 1 winner Lear’s Princess.
Maple Leaf Mel, who captured three races (two of them stakes) against New York-bred company to start her career, entered the Test off of impressive open-company scores in the Miss Preakness (G3) and Victory Ride (G3). She was owned by the August Dawn Farm of Hall of Fame NFL coach Bill Parcells and was named in honor of her trainer, Melanie Giddings.