By Christina Bossinakis
BALTIMORE, MD — Despite having done everything right in three prior career starts, Maple Leaf Mel was nonetheless sent off the 8-5 second betting choice in Friday's GIII Miss Preakness S. behind 4-5 choice Key of Life (Mo Town), victorious in the GII Beaumont S. Apr. 16. Unaware of the crowd's leanings, the grey daughter of Cross Traffic led for most of the way and never looked back, rolling home an easy 1 1/2-length winner over the late-closing Topsy.
The grey soon overtook the fast-starting Key of Life and maintained a measured advantage over the favorite through :22.26 and:45.21 splits. In control but drifting out in the stretch, Maple Leaf Mel gave Joel Rosario no anxious moments as she strolled way to an easy, albeit short, winning margin.
“She had a lot of speed,” said Rosario, who has been aboard all four of the grey's starts. “Her break wasn't really fast but she has so much speed. After she got to the lead, she looked around a little bit. And I just let her do her thing and hopefully she had something left turning for home.”
A five-length winner facing Empire-breds in her career debut at the Spa early last August, she followed up with another front-running victory there in the slop in the Seeking the Ante S. a bit more than two weeks later. Packed away for the rest of the season, she returned with another roping 7 3/4-length score in the Mar. 24 East View S. at Aqueduct.
The horse was named for trainer Jeremiah Englehart's assistant Melanie Giddings, who was diagnosed in 2020 with endocervical and ovarian cancer.
“[Owner] Bill [Parcells] named the horse for me…we had built up a friendship,” explained the Canadian native. “He is at the barn every day [in Saratoga during the summer]. He loves the sport. It's nice for him to get this win. He might have been a little nervous today because I did not hear from him. I think everyone can kind of feel a little relief. She is a New York-bred and the other filly [Key of Life] won in Lexington. This is a nice horse. This makes me feel proud because I think so highly of her.”
With Friday's Miss Preakness victory, Maple Leaf Mel becomes the fourth graded winner for her sire, Cross Traffic, who stands at Spendthrift Farm. Her dam City Gift, winner of a pair of claiming sprints during her abbreviated racing career, previously produced SP Eddie's Gift (El Corredor) and most recently dropped a colt by Brody's Cause in 2021.
All the emotion from team @jceracingstable, including assistant trainer @melgidd1 (the filly's namesake), as MAPLE LEAF MEL (Cross Traffic) sweeps the GIII Miss Preakness Stakes at @PimlicoRC! The filly, now a perfect 4-for-4, is owned by Bill Parcells' August Dawn Farm. pic.twitter.com/vKfJbBzDdS
— TDN (@theTDN) May 19, 2023
MISS PREAKNESS S. PRESENTED BY CASE TRACTOR-GIII, $150,000, Pimlico, 5-19, 3yo, f, 6f, 1:09.56, ft.
1–MAPLE LEAF MEL, 122, f, 3, by Cross Traffic
1st Dam: City Gift, by City Place
2nd Dam: For My Wife, by Not For Love
3rd Dam: Heavens to Betsy, by Miswaki
1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($18,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP; $150,000 2yo '22 EASMAY). O-August Dawn Farm; B-Joe Fafone (NY); T-Jeremiah C. Englehart; J-Joel Rosario. $90,000. Lifetime Record: 4-4-0-0, $303,400. *1/2 to Eddie's Gift (El Corredor), SP, $167,950. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Topsy, 118, f, 3, Bee Jersey–Secretariat Humor, by Distorted Humor. 1ST BLACK TYPE, 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($42,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP; $225,000 2yo '22 OBSMAR). O-L. William Heiligbrodt, Corinne Heiligbrodt and Jackpot Farm; B-Charles Fipke (KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $30,000.
3–L Street Lady, 120, f, 3, Munnings–Lady Gayle, by Scat Daddy. 1ST GRADED BLACK TYPE. ($125,000 Ylg '21 FTKJUL). O-Madaket Stables LLC; B-T & G Farm of Kentucky, LLC (Benson Farm) (KY); T-Brittany T. Russell. $15,000.
Margins: 1HF, 3HF, 1 3/4. Odds: 1.70, 11.20, 48.40.
Also Ran: Afternoon Tea, Key of Life, Bound by Destiny. Scratched: Happy Clouds.
Click for the Equibase.com chart and the TJCIS.com PPs.
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