Favored Sea Chanter fought her way between horses to get the lead in the final strides, capturing the $113,200 Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO) for 2-year-old fillies at one mile on the Hollywood Park turf on Nov. 24.
In winning her graded-stakes debut, the Stonerside Stable homebred added to trainer Todd Pletcher's record purse earnings total for 2007, defeating the French invader Macellya by three-quarters of a length. Sea Chanter won the Epitome Breeders' Cup on a yielding Monmouth Park turf course in her last start Oct. 26.
Jockey Mike Smith rode the winning daughter of War Chant—Smooth Charmer (by Easy Goer) for the first time in the Miesque. Sea Chanter appeared to be a little hot while warming up, but Smith got her to relax early in the one-mile test while racing mid-pack, and they came bursting home to edge by Golden Doc A and Set Play in deep stretch.
"That's something we've been working on, getting her to relax," said Pletcher, who was at Hollywood Park. "She really settled nicely today. Mike did a great job.
"I was really impressed with the way she galloped out; she’s a filly that really wants more ground. She has trained well on the dirt and has also trained really well on the Polytrack at Keeneland. I’m not convinced she has to have turf, although she’s obviously doing really well on it."
Pletcher said the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) on Cushion Track on Dec. 15 is a possibility.
Pletcher broke the earnings mark he established in 2006 on Nov. 23 at Hollywood Park when The Leopard won the Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT). Pletcher, who said he has a string of 50 horses on the West Coast this winter, went over the $27 million mark in purses in 2007.
"She was a little nervous going to the gate, so I just walked her," Smith said. "She's kind, she loaded good, and was relaxed. And when they do that, you always have something left. I had a lot of horse all the way around. It was just a matter of finding a place to go. Once I got through she was on her way."
Runner-up Macellya was visibly impressive in defeat while making her American debut for owner B. Wayne Hughes. The daughter of Testa Rosa raced near the back of the 11-horse field before launching her bid on the final turn. Ridden by Brice Blanc, the chestnut picked off her rivals while closing much ground through the lane, but she she ran out of time.
Blanc said Macellya let up at the half-mile pole. "Once she started getting interested again, she finished up super strong," he said. "French fillies are not used to running around turns. I think she'll get much better after this."
Set Play and Golden Doc A wound up in a dead-heat for third, three-quarters of a length behind the runner-up. The winning time was 1:35.84 on firm going.
The 38-1 maiden Miss Versatile set a comfortable early pace of :24.01 and :48.31 as Golden Doc A stalked. Golden Doc A took over at the quarter pole before being tackled in the stretch by Set Play and the Sea Chanter.
Sea Chanter, who earned $73,200 for the victory, has won three of six starts this year, all on turf. Her bankroll stands at $271,477.
The bay filly carried co-high weight of 122 pounds and paid $6.40, $3.60 and $2.80, topping a $2 exacta worth $51 with Macellya, who returned $7.60 and $5. Set Play was $3 to show and Golden Doc A was $4.20.
Miss Versatile finished fifth, followed by Royale Action, Runforthemoneybaby, La Mina, Sweeter Still, Carnival Queen, and Excitement. Bathed in Blue scratched.