Last Leaf Earns Last-Ditch Win in Melody of Colors
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Monarch Stables Inc.’s Last Leaf made a last-ditch surge along the inside rail to capture Saturday’s $75,000 Melody of Colors Stakes while returning to the five-furlong distance on turf for the first time since the daughter of Not This Time defeated colts in the Hollywood Beach at Gulfstream Park in December.
The Melody of Colors, a five-furlong turf stakes for 3-year-old fillies, co-headlined Saturday’s program with the $75,000 Texas Glitter, a five-furlong turf dash for 3-year-olds.
Last Leaf ($11.20) had finished third in the seven-furlong Forward Gal (G3) on the main track and came in fourth in the Herecomesthebride (G3) at a mile on turf in her two most recent starts. The Ron Spatz trainee, who has also won on dirt and mud during her 10-race career, returned to winning form with a return to turf sprinting.
“That’s what I think she does best. I told [Monarch Stables’] Frank [Bertolino] I think sprinting is her best thing,” Spatz said. “We wanted to try her long to get the graded [victory]”
Last Leaf settled off a hotly contested by set by Creative Girl and pressed by American Scarlet along the backstretch and around the far turn. American Scarlet shook free in the stretch run but was unable to withstand the late inside surge by Last Leaf, who saved ground on the backstretch before swinging three-wide on the turf, only to cut back inside for the winning drive. The Kentucky-bred filly was ridden by Miguel Vasquez.
“It didn’t go exactly like I hoped it would. I was hoping she would be laying second or third early. They stood in the gate so long, maybe she didn’t break real well,” Spatz said. “But she always has a lot of heart when she runs. No matter what predicament she gets in, she usually tries.”
Last Leaf ran five furlongs over a firm turf course in 57.40 seconds.
“She likes to sprint. She’s a five-eighths turf horse, and she excels at that,” Spatz said. “We’re going to try to keep her there.”
American Scarlet, the 3-1 favorite who was ridden by Emisael Jaramillo, finished three-quarters of a length ahead of third-place finisher Fawning, who raced evenly after looming dangerous at the top of the stretch.