David Egan’s homebred Mekong Melody stayed perfect in three tries at the marathon distance of 12 furlongs as she sprinted away in the stretch to score convincingly in the $150,000 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) Nov. 13 at Aqueduct.
With Alex Solis aboard her for the first time, Mekong Melody, a 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Cape Cross, notched her first win in the United States. Based at Woodbine for trainer Roger Attfield, her biggest previous victory came this summer in the Dance Smartly (Can-IIT).
, the 3-5 favorite in a field of six fillies and mares, finished a disappointing fourth under John Velazquez.
After an even break, longshot Tarrip
grabbed the lead heading into the first turn and set the pace under Cornelio Velasquez. The 4-year-old filly controlled a sensible pace in a tightly-bunched field, clicking off fractions of :25.25, :51.73, 1:17.18, and 1:42.57 for a mile. Me Love
raced in second, with Mekong Melody receiving a perfect stalking trip in third. Changing Skies, who missed by a head in the grade I Flower Bowl Invitational last month, was also in good position.
Tarrip cut the final corner still holding a narrow advantage over Changing Skies from the outside, but Solis kept Mekong Melody close to the pace along the hedge and when he asked for her best she snuck through the inside and sprinted away from her challengers approaching the final furlong. The bay mare opened up a clear lead in by the sixteenth-pole and hit the wire in front by 3 3/4 lengths.
, a bit rank in the early going and caught in traffic for much of the way, closed willingly for second, a half-length in front of Tarrip, who held off Changing Skies by a nose for third. The final time for 1 1/2 miles on the firm turf course was 2:30.74.
“I had a great trip," Solis said. "I saved all the ground and in the stretch, I got lucky. I got a little opening there and when I asked her, she went through and finished very strong.”
Mekong Melody won for the third time in five starts this season. In her only previous attempt in the U.S., she finished 10th in the Ballston Spa Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 28 at Saratoga. She was also 10th last out in the Oct. 16 E.P. Taylor (Can-IT) at Woodbine during a troubled trip.
The winner is out of the Niniski mare Nini Princesse. She improved to 7-5-2 from 21 starts with earnings of $496,806.
Sent off as the third choice, Mekong Melody paid $9.40, $5, and $17.80. With Changing Skies running off the board, Daveron paid $5.20 and a generous $15.20, while Tarrip returned a whopping $49.20 to show. The exacta (2-7) was $42.20 and the trifecta (2-7-1) netted $306.50.
Me Love was fifth, followed by Sweet and Flawless. Clarinet was scratched.