Notes & Quotes From the G2 Jessamine Stakes: Sweet Melania

(Jockey Jose Ortiz, rider of Sweet Melania / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

From the Keeneland Media Team:

Jose Ortiz (winning rider of Sweet Melania)

“The way she broke today I knew she was going to be there. In the first turn, I had Florent (Geroux on Jezebel’s Kitten) trail me, and (Sweet Melania) was a little keen. As soon as I completely got the lead, she relaxed well and I cruised to the quarter pole. When I asked her to go, she switched leads and gave me a great turn of foot.”

Robert Low (owner of Sweet Melania with his wife, Lawana)

“Win any kind of stakes race, a “Win and You’re In” race (at Keeneland) is fantastic, so we’re looking forward to going to California.”

On what he loves about Thoroughbred racing

“The sport, the animals, the people – it’s fantastic. I’m a businessperson, so I’m out there competing day to day, so I love the competition.”

On how he picked the filly at Keeneland’s 2018 September Yearling Sale

“(Bloodstock agent) Jacob West found her for us and (trainer) Todd (Pletcher) approved her, so we bought her. We love this filly and are really excited to see her. I just love this filly. The way she moves; she has that American Pharoah walk. She was great.”

(Rider Calvin Borel / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Calvin Borel (rider of runner-up Witez)

“She ran a big race. The first quarter was pretty (even) and then they (slowed) down on the backside a little bit. I was proud of her. She overcame getting in a little traffic turning for home, but she came out of it and ran a big race. I was very pleased.”

Ian Wilkes (trainer of Witez)

“The leader was just too good, but my filly is improving. She’s getting better and better.”

(Jockey Corey Lanerie / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Corey Lanerie (rider of third-place finisher Ask Bailey)

“She was toward the back of the pack just biding her time, then I made my run. I thought I was going to get there but just wasn’t good enough today. It was the first time I rode her, but it seems like she’s learning and getting better and she wants to go all day.”

Florent Geroux (rider of fourth-place finisher and beaten favorite Jezebel’s Kitten)

“It was a funny race. She broke on top and when I could I sat behind the eventual winner but not until like around the three quarter pole. I’m a little bit disappointed. Today was not her day. It was softer ground, not super soft but there was some give in the ground, which was something she never experienced before. Kentucky Downs was pretty firm and Ellis Park as well. And she’s kind of a smaller filly too – maybe she likes it a bit harder. Just disappointed to be honest.”

 

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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