Luna Vega Runs Away With Molly Pitcher
Photo: Jessica Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Luna Vega overcame Spritely in the homestretch to post a mild surprise in the Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Stakes at Monmouth.

Luna Vega overwhelmed Spritely in the stretch to post a mild surprise in the $223,000 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) Aug. 30 for her second win in as many starts on the Monmouth Park main track.

Ridden by Elvis Trujillo for Millennium Farms and trainer Steve Asmussen, Luna Vega earned her third victory in the past four starts. The 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon   got the lead from Spritely at the eighth pole and drew away under moderate left-handed urging to win by 1 1/2 lengths. She completed the 1 1/16-mile event for fillies and mares in 1:41.91 on a fast track to pick up her first stakes victory.

Facing five rivals, Luna Vega tracked the leaders from the near the rear of a closely packed field before angling four wide on the final turn. She followed Spritely and jockey Chris Decarlo into the homestretch and engaged the second choice shortly after she seized the lead from tiring pacesetters Jessica Is Back and Devil House, who sparred through fractions of :23.37, :47.14, and 1:11.01. Spritely, along the inside, fought back as Luna Vega gained the advantage before giving way leaving the sixteenth pole.

“There was a lot of speed in the race so I just stayed behind everyone," Trujillo said. "At the three-eighths pole I came out and she ran a good race from there.”

It was seven lengths back to Devil House and Chuck Lopez in third, who nipped Jessica Is Back by a head for the show spot. Euphony, the 8-5 favorite, was never a factor while finishing fifth. It was Euphony's first out-of-the-money showing in her 13-race career, which includes nine victories.

"Going around the turn, I could tell she wasn’t going to run today," jockey Cliff Berry said of the favorite.

You Asked trailed the field.

Luna Vega was coming off a sixth-place effort in the Aug. 2 Go for Wand Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga in which she was no factor on a "sloppy" sealed track. Prior to that, she won a one-mile, 70-yard allowance race at Monmouth by 6 3/4 lengths on a fast track June 25, her only prior start at the Jersey shore track. The chestnut filly improved her career mark to 4-3-1 in 14 starts with earnings of $227,692. The Molly Pitcher victory was worth $120,000.

Marshall Thoroughbreds bred Luna Vega in Kentucky. Out of the Rock Royalty mare Donnavega, Luna Vega sold for $67,000 as a yearling at Keeneland in September 2006.

Sent off as the fourth choice, Luna Vega carried 117 pounds and paid $13, $5.40, and $3.40. Spriteley, who ran third in the Go for Wand in her last start, returned $4.20 and $2.60 while completing a $2 exacta worth $49. Devil House, who won the Lady Secret on a "sloppy" Monmouth track for leading trainer Bruce Levine last time out, paid $5 to show.

Annabill scratched.

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