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More Than Love just douses Flare in Miesque

  • More Than Love (Benoit Photos)

With the scratch of morning-line favorite Assateague, fellow East Coast shipper More Than Love was bet down to even-money in Friday's Grade 3, $100,000 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park. The John Terranova II juvenile gave her backers fits as she engaged in an all-out stretch duel with Starship Flare, the 29-1 longest shot on the board, but ultimately averted the upset. Under Ramon Dominguez, More Than Love forced her nose in front at the wire, completing one mile on the firm turf in 1:36 1/5.

More Than Love, a stalk-and-pounce winner of a Belmont Park maiden last time out, adopted the same tactics in her stakes debut. She tracked Starship Flare, a former Calder denizen making her first start for Kristin Mulhall, through splits of :24 and :48 3/5. On the far turn, More Than Love ranged alongside through six furlongs in 1:12 2/5, but the longtime leader was not ready to quit the field.

Starship Flare maintained her pace down the stretch. The more More Than Love kept trying to reel her in, the more Starship Flare knuckled down. The upset-minded front runner nearly succeeded, but More Than Love prevailed with a last desperate surge. The favorite paid $4, $3.20 and $2.20, and the gallant runner-up sparked mutuels of $15.20 and $6.20.

"I didn't really get any instructions," Dominguez said. "They just told me to play it by ear. My filly broke forward and I just stalked the leader. She was going real easily out there. I watched the replay of her last race in New York when she broke her maiden. I knew today's race was a step up, but at the same time that was the case for everybody else. She looked just as good as anybody in there, for sure."

"(Starship Flare) ran well," jockey Victor Espinoza recapped. "What was she, 20 or 30-1? The one I got beat by was the favorite, so I can't feel too bad. The winner was right next to me the whole way around. For a minute, I thought I was going to win, but the wire came up one or two jumps too late. My filly was trying so hard, she ran great."

Their rivals were never in serious contention. Another 3 1/2 lengths back came British invader Island Paradise, who edged Your Special Day for third. Regal Betty, Katie's Ten and Raesunbridledfaith rounded out the order of finish.

Newtown Anner Stud's More Than Love nearly tripled her bankroll to $93,150 from her 3-2-0-0 record, all on turf. In her September 16 debut at Belmont, the chestnut was a wide-trip fourth, not beaten far by runner-up Assateague. More Than Love promptly broke her maiden next time out over the same course on October 9.

Bred by Loft Hall Stud, Galleria Bloodstock and Samac in Kentucky, the More Than Ready filly brought $130,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. She is out of the Grade 3-placed Zafonic mare I'm in Love. Her fourth dam is the winning Special Account, a full sister to champion and influential broodmare Numbered Account. 

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