Breaking quickly from the inside post, Molto Vita led every step of the way, holding off 4-5 favorite Tina Bull by a neck to win the $100,000 Ellis Park Breeders' Cup Handicap for fillies and mares Saturday."Being in the No. 1 post, figured we'd better take advantage of this filly's speed," said winning rider Larry Melancon. "I thought there was a couple of others in there and might come away running, too. But I didn't know how much class they had."Molto Vita, a 4-year-old bay daughter of Carson City trained by Dallas Stewart, completed the 6 1/2-furlong event in 1:17 over a fast track. After tracking the pace throughout, Smoke Chaser, finished another 2 1/2 lengths back in third.Melancon nursed the winner, who was sent off at odds of 14-1, along on a half-length advantage through an opening quarter-mile in :21.73 seconds and :45.16 for the half."Around the turn, she through her ears up and was doing it easily. So I didn't ask her for anything more until the stretch," said Melancon. "We built a cushion and then were able to hang on."Entering the stretch, Tina Bull, Shane Sellers aboard, ranged up outside the winner, gaining slightly in the final furlong, but she couldn't make up the difference. The race was run for the first time in 19 years at 6 1/2 furlongs after originating at seven furlongs and being reduced to six the last three renewals.
The winner paid $31.80, $9.20, $3.40. Tina Bull returned $2.80, $2.10. Smoke Chaser returned $2.40.Owned by John Gunther, Molto Vita earned $62,220, increasing her career total to $237,410 on a record of 6-2-0 from 16 starts.(Chart, Equibase)