Sweet Melania headlines Lake George (G3)
by Ryan Martin
Robert and Lawana Low's Sweet Melania will attempt to keep her consistent record intact when she headlines Friday's 25th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Lake George for 3-year-old fillies going one mile over the inner turf.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Sweet Melania arrives at the Lake George off an easy wire-to-wire victory in the Grade 3 Wonder Again at Belmont Park, which she won off a nearly eight-month layoff while registering a career-best 87 Beyer Speed Figure.
The American Pharoah chestnut began her career on the main track but made her third career start a winning one when debuting on grass over the Spa's inner turf last July. Sweet Melania followed up with a runner-up effort in the P.G. Johnson at Saratoga before a victory in the Grade 2 Jessamine at Keeneland. She completed her juvenile campaign by running third in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita.
Sweet Melania worked a solid half-mile over the Oklahoma training turf in 48.72 seconds on August 21.
"She's a quality filly and I was pleased with her effort off the layoff," said Pletcher who won previous editions of the Lake George with Ready's Gal  and Magnificent Song . "She breezed super on Friday, so hopefully she's ready to run well again."
Bred in Kentucky by St. Elias Stable, Sweet Melania is out of the Discreet Cat mare Sweet N Discreet, a stakes winner on grass who is a half-sister to graded stakes winners Travelin Man and Discreet Dancer. She is a direct descendant of prolific broodmare Lassie Dear and comes from the same family as champion producing stallions A.P. Indy and Lemon Drop Kid.
This year, American Pharoah has had three graded stakes winners, all of whom were on turf.
"It's been interesting to see how much success he's had on the grass," Pletcher said of the 2015 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year. "She's a case of one that you can see a noticeable difference in when you get her on the turf. I think she has tactical speed she can carry. A mile is a good fit for her."
Jockey Jose Ortiz will be back aboard as he attempts a fifth stakes victory this meet from post 1.
Trainer Jack Sisterson will send out Windracer after a successful United States debut against allowance company over the turf at Arlington Park on August 8.
Owned by Barbara Banke's Stonestreet Stables, the Irish-bred Showcasing chestnut emerged victorious off a nearly one year layoff when besting a field of six fillies.
Windracer won her career debut last June over a yielding turf at the Curragh where she was a neck to the better of subsequent four-time Group 1-winner Love.
"She's an extremely talented filly. We haven't had her too long, we basically just had to keep her happy going to Arlington" Sisterson said. "She did most of her training down at Stonestreet. Ian Brennan does a fantastic job down there, they have a world class facility. We just have to stay out of her way and keep her happy. She has some very good form in Europe. It's a step up in class but she's doing extremely well, and I think this is a steppingstone to bigger and better things."
Leaving from post 9, Windracer will pick up the riding services of Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Mary Ann Charleston's Witez will look to carry her winning form into graded stakes company for trainer Ian Wilkes. The daughter of More Than Ready made her Spa debut a winning one last out when besting a field of winners over the inner turf on July 26, where she made amends from a distant 12th place finish to Harvey's Lil Goil in the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs.
During her 2-year-old year, Witez was second to Sweet Melania in the Grade 2 Jessamine at Keeneland, where she was a 45-1 longshot.
Jockey Jose Lezcano, who piloted Winter Memories to a 2011 Lake George score, will pick up the mount from post 3.
Completing the field are Micheline [post 2, Joel Rosario], Velvet Crush [post 4, Luis Saez], My Sassy Sarah [post 5, Eric Cancel], Cat's Pajamas [post 6, John Velazquez], Selflessly [post 8, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], Sugar Fix [post 10, Junior Alvarado], and American Giant [post 11, Manny Franco]. Miss Peppina [post 7] was entered for main track only.
The Lake George is slated as Race 9 on Friday's 10-race card, which offers a first post of 1:10 p.m. Eastern. Saratoga Live will present daily television coverage of the 40-day summer meet on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete Saratoga Live broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/tv-schedule.
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