Even-money choice More Than Love, making her stakes debut, was all-out in the final lunge to nose ultra-game 29-1 pacesetter Starship Flare in the $100,000 Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Hollywood Park turf Nov. 25 (VIDEO) .
Invading from Belmont Park, Newtown Anner Stud's More Than Love completed the one-mile Turf Festival test for 2-year-old fillies over firm ground in 1:36.62. Ramon Dominguez was aboard More Than Love, making her third lifetime start for trainer John Terranova II.
Morning-line favorite Assateague was a veterinarian's scratch before the race, leaving a field of seven for the Miesque.
Starship Flare, ridden by Victor Espinoza, sped to the lead, angling in to set a steady pace along the inside. She clipped off quarter-mile splits of :24.01, :48.70, and 1:12.55. More than Love, away in second, bid early alongside Starship Flare at the quarter pole. But the pacesetter dug in and inched ahead in the final furlong after floating the favorite out in the homestretch. More Than Love kept coming, however, and got up in the final jump over the gritty longshot.
"The winner was right next to me the whole way around," Espinoza said. "For a minute, I thought I was going to win, but the wire came up one or two jumps too late. My filly was trying so hard, she ran great."
A chestnut filly by More Than Ready out of I'm in Love, by Zafonic, More Than Love was bred in Kentucky by Loft Hall Stud, Galleria Bloodstock, and Samac. She was $130,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase last year.
More Than Love began her career with a fourth-place finish going one mile on firm turf at Belmont Park Sept. 16. She returned at 1 1/16 miles over the same turf Oct. 9, defeating a maiden field by one length.
"My filly broke forward, and I just stalked the leader," Dominguez said of the winner. "She was going real easily out there. I watched the replay of her last race in New York when she broke her maiden. I knew today's race was a step up, but at the same time that was the case for everybody else. She looked just as good as anybody in there, for sure."
Dominguez, who had five winners Thanksgiving Day at Aqueduct, has won five Turf Festival races in 10 mounts. This was the sixth Miesque won by a shipper in the past seven renewals of the race.
Irish-bred Island Paradise, making her United States debut for British trainer Charles Hills, finished third under Joel Rosario, 3 1/2 lengths behind the first two. Then came Your Special Day, Regal Betty, Katie's Ten, and Raesunbridledfaith.
More Than Love toted co-high weight of 118 pounds and paid $4, $3.20, $2.20. Starship Flare returned $15.20 and $6.20 and completed a $71.40 exacta. Island Paradise was $2.80 to show.