Maple Leaf Mel A Sentimental Debut Winner For Englehart

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.”

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.”

The post Maple Leaf Mel A Sentimental Debut Winner For Englehart appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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