December 6, 2022

P.G. Johnson: Sweet Melania represents American Pharoah, Crystalle bids for breakthrough

Thursday's feature at Saratoga is the P.G. Johnson on turf (c)

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who sends out the American Pharoah colt Eagerly in Wednesday’s With Anticipation (G3), has Sweet Melania by the same hot freshman sire in Thursday’s companion $100,000 P.G. Johnson S. at Saratoga. Also as in the With Anticipation, the P.G. Johnson features a few other notable first-crop sires.

A $600,000 Keeneland September yearling, Sweet Melania placed third in a pair of dirt sprints but excelled when trying two turns on turf. The Robert and Lawana Low colorbearer stalked and pounced in a July 14 Spa maiden at this 1 1/16-mile distance. Although she beat next-out romper Morning Gold and another subsequent winner in Lucky Jingle, Sweet Melania was capitalizing on both experience and a favorable race shape. This stakes debut figures to be tougher.

Pletcher’s other entrant, Apurate, was best of the rest behind Morning Gold in her first turf try here August 11. From the first crop of Summer Front, she’s eligible to progress further on this surface.

Crystalle is technically still a maiden, thanks to her disqualification from a convincing debut over course and distance August 4. Overlooked at 41-1, the daughter of freshman sire Palace Malice rolled from last to first by 2 1/4 lengths, only to be demoted for interference in a controversial call. Trainer John Kimmel told NYRA publicity that Crystalle would have been bound for the September 15 Natalma (G1), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), had she kept her maiden score. Joel Rosario picks up the mount.

The David Donk-trained English Breeze blew away New York-bred foes in her unveiling here August 14, in a manner suggesting she’s ready for open company. The English Channel filly is wheeling back on shorter rest than the others, and could be stronger with maturity, but obviously rates a threat.

Aforementioned Lucky Jingle is herself bred to improve with age, being by freshman sire Tonalist. The Graham Motion pupil progressed from her third to Sweet Melania to wire a Laurel maiden last out. Ginseng was emphatic in her debut at Indiana Grand for Brad Cox, while Sunset Promise and Lively Kitten have left their maiden claiming days behind. Sunset Promise, claimed off Wesley Ward by Mike Maker, opened up in a maiden special weight at Gulfstream, and Lively Kitten cleared her entry-level allowance condition at Laurel for Daniel Velazquez.