Maple Leaf Mel a sentimental winner for Englehart 

August 11, 2022

Saratoga Week 6 Stakes Probables

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – When two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Parcells was mulling over names for a 2-year-old New York-bred Cross Traffic filly that he had just purchased for $150,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale in May, he suggested to trainer Jeremiah Englehart that the filly be named for his longtime assistant Melanie Giddings. Three months later, Maple Leaf Mel, named for Giddings’ Canadian roots, graduated on debut in Race 6, a six-furlong maiden special weight for state-bred fillies, on Wednesday at Saratoga Race Course. 

“Mel and I have been together a long time up here and in Florida,” said Englehart. “When we bought [the filly], on the drive back Coach said, ‘What if we named her after Mel?’ And he came up with Maple Leaf Mel. When he mentioned it, it just sounded right. Mel is such a big part of our operation here and I thought it was a pretty good way to honor her. I’m so glad she ran the way she did.” 

Ridden to victory by Joel Rosario, Maple Leaf Mel was sent to the lead from post 7 and opened up a two-length lead on her nine rivals through the first quarter-mile. She continued to lead throughout, opening her margins at the top of the lane and crossing the wire five-lengths the best in a final time of 1:11.48. The sharp score garnered an 81 Beyer Speed Figure.

“It seemed like she came out well,” said Englehart. “We’re really happy with the way she ran and we were kind of hoping that’s what she would do. She was one that always kind of gave off an impression that she likes to race.”

Jeremiah Englehart (NYRA/Coglianese)

Bred in the Empire State by Joe Fafone, Maple Leaf Mel is out of the City Place mare City Gift and is a half-sister to stakes-placed New York-bred Eddie’s Gift.

Englehart said the filly mirrors her namesake’s strong work ethic and professionalism. 

“With Mel, you know where you stand,” said Englehart. “What she puts into it, she expects it from the team. She’s my safety blanket.”

Giddings said it is both an honor and a relief to see Maple Leaf Mel give such a strong performance. 

“It’s definitely different,” Giddings said, with a laugh. “Coach picked her out himself and I’ve known him for a few years. I don’t know if he named her after me because I kept telling him how much I love her. It means a lot.” 

As for what’s next for Maple Leaf Mel, Englehart said she may be pointed to the $200,000 Seeking the Ante on August 26 at the Spa for juvenile state-bred fillies sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs. 

“We want to make sure she came out of the race OK, and I might look to the New York-bred race back in 16 days,” Englehart said. “I’ll give her a nice little easy work nine days from now and see how she comes out of it and maybe plan for that race.” 

SARATOGA WEEK 6 STAKES PROBABLES

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17

G1 Jonathan SheppardProbable: Belfast Banter (Cyril Murphy), Chief Justice (C. Murphy), Down Royal (Kate Dalton), Going Country (Keri Brion), Historic Heart (Brion), Redicean (Leslie Young), Snap Decision (Jack Fisher), Song for Someone (Young)

NYSSS Cab Calloway – Probable: Born Dancer (Michelle Nevin), Dakota Gold (Danny Gargan), Marinara Sauced (Chad Brown), Shinsun (Barclay Tagg), Silent Running (H. James Bond), Surprise Boss (Rafael Jose Rohena)

THURSDAY, AUGUST 18

NYSSS Statue of Liberty – Probable: Busy Morning (Jorge Abreu), Dream Central (Gary Sciacca), Eros’s Girl (Anthony Ferraro), Robyn and Eli (Chad Brown), Silent Invasion (A. Ferraro), Silken Dollar (Rick Schosberg), Tara Dancer (Horacio De Paz)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 19

$150K Skidmore – Probable: Appraise (C. Brown), Bourbon Therapy (Mike Maker), Cadillac Candy (Rusty Arnold), Fadethenoise (Maker), No Nay Hudson (Wesley Ward), Prove Right (James Chapman), Sweet Harmony (John Terranova)

$135K Summer Colony – Probable: Army Wife (Mike Maker), Battle Bling (Rob Atras), Bonny South (Brad Cox), Leader of the Band (John Servis), Misty Veil (Tom Amoss)

SATURDAY, AUGUST 20

G1 Alabama – Probable: Gerrymander (C. Brown), Nest (Todd Pletcher), Nostalgic (Bill Mott), Secret Oath (D. Wayne Lukas)
Possible
: Goddess of Fire (Pletcher), Skratch Kat (Philip Bauer)

G2 Lake Placid – Probable: Canisy (Christophe Clement), Customer List (C. Brown), Eminent Victor (C. Brown), Koala Princess (Arnaud Delacour), Sparkle Blue (Graham Motion), Spirit and Glory (Robert Falcone, Jr.)

$150K Smart N Fancy – Probable: Caravel (Brad Cox), Change of Control (Michelle Lovell), Illegal Smile (Wesley Ward), Lady Edith (Clement), Miss J McKay (Clement), Robin Sparkles (Bruce Brown)

SUNDAY, AUGUST 21

$150K Bolton Landing – Probable: Grand Oak (Motion), Motown Mischief (Timothy Hamm), No Kay Never (Wesley Ward), Recinto Rompere (Delacour), Sicilian Grandma (Tom Morley), Sweet Harmony (John Terranova)

NYRA Press Office
Photo by NYRA/Coglianese

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