Merlazza justified being sent off as the heavy favorite when she rallied in the stretch to win the $150,000 Valley of the Vapors Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, 22 April.
It was the first Stakes win for the promising Medaglia d’Oro filly, who has now won three straight and three of four career starts. The only blemish on her resume is a short head defeat which came in her career debut in January.
Piloted for the first time by Joel Rosario, Merlazza was allowed to settle in fifth early while racing in between horses. Merlazza was still in traffic rounding the far turn, but Rosario swung her into the clear on the outside at the top of the stretch. She then reeled in longtime leader Pink Ace in deep stretch to win by a measured length.
Merlazza was bred in Kentucky and races as a homebred for Don Alberto Corporation. Out of the Stakes-placed mare, Mi Vida (Distorted Humor), Merlazza is a full sister to Graded Stakes-placed Gold Standard and hails from the immediate family of G1 winners Dream Supreme (Seeking the Gold) and Majestic Warrior (A.P. Indy). Stakes winner and 2023 G1 Kentucky Oaks contender Shidabhuti (Practical Joke) also hails from this family.
Merlazza gave Medaglia d’Oro his eighth Stakes winner worldwide in just the past eight weeks. Earlier on Saturday in Australia, his son Kallos captured the G3 R.N. Irwin Stakes at Morphettville. The stallion has now sired over 170 individual Stakes-race winners, with 26 at G1 level.
Medaglia d'Oro is standing the 2023 breeding season at Jonabell Farm in Kentucky for $100,000, stands and nurses.