Robert and Lawana Low’s Sweet Melania moved to the lead on the backstretch and then drew off in the stretch to post a 5½-length victory over Witez in the 29th running of the $200,000 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G2) for 2-year-olds fillies before a Wednesday afternoon crowd of 9,583.
The victory, by the largest margin in the history of the race, earned Sweet Melania a fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to be contested at a mile on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. The JPMorgan Chase Jessamine was the final Breeders’ Cup Challenge race for this year’s World Championships.
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Jose Ortiz, Sweet Melania covered the 1 1/16 miles on a turf course labeled as good in 1:43.13. It is the fourth victory in the race for Pletcher, who won previously with Ocean Drive in 2002, Paddy’s Daisy in 2004 and J’ray in 2005.
It is the 55th Keeneland stakes victory for Pletcher, the track’s leader in that category.
It is the first victory in the race for Ortiz, who has won three graded stakes in the first four days of the Fall Meet.
Favored Jezebel’s Kitten led the field into the first turn with Sweet Melania in closest pursuit through a first quarter-mile in :23.29. Midway on the backstretch, Sweet Melania moved to the front and maintained a comfortable advantage over Jezebel’s Kitten until the top of the stretch where Sweet Melania kicked clear to put the race away.
The victory was worth $120,000 and increased Sweet Melania’s earnings to $204,000 with a record of 5-2-1-2.
A graduate of Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale, Sweet Melania is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah out of the Discreet Cat mare Sweet N Discreet.
Sweet Melania returned $8, $5.20 and $3.80 as the second choice in the field of 14. Witez, ridden by Calvin Borel, returned $29.40 and $14.80 in finishing three-quarters of a length in front of Ask Bailey, who paid $8.20 to show under Corey Lanerie.
Jezebel’s Kitten was another 1¼ lengths back in fourth and was followed in order by Eye of a Soldier, Morning Gold, Diamond Sparkles, Swanage, Indochine, High On Gin, Fujairah, Takeitback, Envied and Lemon Scat.
Racing continues Thursday with a 10-race program that begins at 1:05 p.m. ET