Melhor Ainda Heads Sands Point Field

(from Belmont Park report)
TNT Stud's undefeated three-year-old filly Melhor Ainda takes on seven rivals in Sunday's $100,000-added Sands Point for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the Belmont Park turf.

Not only has Melhor Ainda won all three of her starts, she has done it with relative ease on each occasion. Already making her $125,000 purchase price paid at the 2003 Keeneland September Yearling Sale look like a bargain, Melhor Ainda has impressed race watchers with her turn of foot, especially in the stretch.

Perhaps what is most impressive about the daughter of hot sire Pulpit is that she sits off the pace early but moves up on her own in the middle stages of a race, putting herself in the right position turning for home.

"She's a really nice filly," said her trainer, Bobby Frankel. "She does things easily."

Last year at 2, Melhor Ainda started twice, breaking her maiden at first asking and then drawing off with ease to take the Miss Grillo by eight lengths.

In her 3-year-old debut, the April 24 Appalachian at Keeneland, the only thing Melhor Ainda could have done differently was to switch leads a little earlier in the stretch as she ran half the stretch run on her wrong lead.

Allowed to fall behind in the early stages, Melhor Ainda was guided outside down the backstretch by jockey John Velazquez, where she ranged up on her own while four wide to draw closer to the pace. The filly continued her wide journey around the far turn and spun out to the seven path at the top of the stretch. The loss of ground didn't factor in at the finish. In fact, she probably could have gone into the 20 path and won.

Live Oak Plantation's My Typhoon was sent off the 3-5 favorite over Melhor Ainda in the Miss Grillo and was defeated 9 ½ lengths in fourth.

My Typhoon, a daughter of Giant's Causeway broke her maiden impressively at first asking last summer. She was put away for the rest of 2004 after the Miss Grillo, but returned to take the Hilltop Breeders' Cup at Pimlico May 14 in her 2005 seasonal debut.

"This will be a tough spot," trainer Bill Mott said. "Obviously, Melhor Ainda is the horse to beat."

Paddy's Daisy, the Appalachian runner-up, will take another crack at Melhor Ainda in the Sands Point. She won three stakes last year including the Miesque (gr. IIIT), but is winless in three starts this year.

$100,00 Sands Point Stakes, 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles (turf)
1. My Typhoon, Bill Mott, Edgar Prado, 121
2. Laurafina, Bob Barbara, Javier Castellano, 115
3. Miami Princess, Eddie Plesa Jr., Jorge Chavez, 115
4. Merrill Gold, Carlos Martin, Edgar Prado, 115
5. Paddy's Daisy, Todd Pletcher, Jerry Bailey, 123
6. Wait It Out, Heriberto Cedano, Jean-Luc Samyn, 115
7. Dynamite Lass, Kiaran McLaughlin, Richard Migliore, 117
8. Melhor Ainda, Bobby Frankel, John Velazquez, 123
Main Track Only
9. Neverlacken, Richard Violette Jr., no rider, 123
10. Capitulation, Richard Violette Jr., Jerry Bailey, 123