Undefeated Maple Leaf Mel Classy Winner of G3 Miss Preakness

May 19, 2023

Maple Leaf Mel rolls home handily to win the Miss Preakness (Maryland Jockey Club)

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

BALTIMORE— August Dawn Farm’s New York-bred Maple Leaf Mel, racing against open company for the first time, ran her career record to a perfect 4-0 with a professional 1 ½-length triumph in Friday’s $150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) at historic Pimlico Race Course.

The 38th running of the six-furlong Miss Preakness for 3-year-old fillies was the third of six stakes, three graded, worth $1 million in purses on a sensational 14-race Black-Eyed Susan (G2) Day program headlined by the 99th edition of the 1 1/8-mile fixture for sophomore fillies.

Based in New York with trainer Jeremiah Englehart, Maple Leaf Mel ($5.40) has won all four of her races with jockey Joel Rosario aboard. Friday’s win was the second of the afternoon for Rosario following 4-year-old filly Roses for Debra ($6) in Race 5.

Grade 2-winning favorite Key of Life broke running and found herself on the lead early until Maple Leaf Mel came rolling on the far outside to take over the top spot following a quarter of a mile in 22.26 seconds. In the clear and moving easily under Rosario, Maple Leaf Mel rolled through a half in 45.21 and went five furlongs in 56.96, finishing up in 1:09.56 over a fast main track while under wraps.

Topsy made a late run to be second, 3 ½ lengths ahead of L Street Lady, winner of the Jan. 21 Xtra Heat at Laurel Park. They were followed by Afternoon Tea, Key of Life and Bound by Destiny.

Maple Leaf Mel, by Cross Traffic, broke her maiden at first asking last August and two weeks later captured the 6 ½-furlong Seeking the Ante over a sloppy track, both at Saratoga. She went unraced until March 24, when she rolled by a 7 ¾-length triumph in the six-furlong East View at Aqueduct. Her four wins, all in front-running fashion, have come by 17 ¾ combined lengths.

It was the first Miss Preakness victory for both Rosario and Englehart.

$150,000 Miss Preakness (G3) Quotes

Winning Trainer Jeremiah Englehart (Maple Leaf Mel): “I loved the way she was in the paddock. She had really good energy. (Assistant trainer) Melanie (Giddings,) has been telling me she has been doing very well. She’s one of those fillies that loves doing what she does. It showed today.

“Joel (Rosario) was thinking, ‘Do you want to go to the lead?’ I said, ‘Well, we’ve got the outside post. At least break and see where everyone is going.’ We knew the 2 had the speed. I was content with just sitting off her. When Joel got the lead, I got thinking, ‘Coach (owner Bill Parcells) told me that he wanted to sit. In the locker room I was going to get beat up pretty good if she took the lead and then faded late. It worked out great.

“You can do whatever you want with her.”

“The way she does it, I always figured she would run with whoever we put her against just because when you ask her to run, she does it. I thought she would handle it but this was going to be her real, true test to show she would handle it. She passed.”

Maple Leaf Mel impresses in the Miss Preakness (Jim Duley)

Melanie Giddings, assistant trainer to Jeremiah Englehart and cancer survivor): “This is emotional. There is a lot of pressure when you have Bill Parcells as the owner. He will say, ‘Is she ready? Is she ready?’ I keep telling him, ‘Yes,’ and you just hope it all works out.

“This is special not just for me but there are a lot of other people as well. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and they say, ‘Oh my God, I feel you.’ They have had this or that happen to them. It’s nice. They have a horse to look up to, in a sense, when she is winning.

“I had endocervical and ovarian cancer, which was diagnosed in 2020. Bill named the horse for me, partly because of that (She is also from Canada) and we had built up a friendship. He is at the barn every day (in Saratoga during the summer). He loves the sport. It’s nice for him to get this win. He might have been a little nervous today because I did not hear from him. I think everyone can kind of feel a little relief. She is a New York-bred and the other filly (Key of Life) won in Lexington, This is a nice horse. This makes me feel proud because I think so highly of her.”

Winning Jockey Joel Rosario (Maple Leaf Mel): “She has a lot of speed. Her break was not really super-fast, but she has so much speed. After she got the lead, she looked around a little bit. And I just let her do her thing, and hopefully we had something left turning for home.”

Trainer Steve Asmussen assistant Darren Fleming (Topsy, 2nd): “I thought she ran huge. She finished up really well. I’d have to watch the replay. I don’t know how she got that far back.”

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione (Topsy, 2nd): “My filly broke alertly, put herself in a good spot and she was really finishing down the lane. The track’s a little tight, but it’s very fair out there. It seems like the best horses are getting it done.”

Trainer Brittany Russell (L Street Lady, 3rd): “You know, we were really trying to get a piece of this, and L Street Lady ran a really big race. She came from off it and for her to run up and get third was great. They were really rolling. She is a nice filly. I am surprised she did not get a little more respect (45-1 odds). I am delighted, very happy with her.”

Brad Cox, trainer beaten-favorite Key of Life: “She got outrun, it looked like to me. The winner was very good; and we didn’t run our best race but were no match for the top finishers.”

@jonathanstettin I for one can still actually feel the pall cast over the crowd and game that day. It was palpable. Kudos 2/2

William G. Gotimer (@WilliamGotimer) View testimonials

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