It took a photo finish to decide the winner, but Melmich and jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva defeated two-time Sovereign Award winner Are You Kidding Me by a nose in the $125,000 Seagram Cup (Gr. 3) for horses three years old and up on Sunday afternoon at Woodbine Racetrack.
Despite a rough start out of the gate, the Kevin Attard-trained Melmich stormed down the stretch to collar Are You Kidding Me (Rafael Hernandez), who had moved out three-deep to take the lead at the third quarter mark. Melmich won by a head bob at the wire in 1:43.43 in the 1-1/16 mile graded stakes event contested on the Tapeta surface.
Melmich trailed the field early on, five lengths off the leader Bear’sway (Jesse Campbell), who was pressured by Keen Gizmo (David Moran) through fractions of :24.48, :48.98 and 1:13.07. Meanwhile, just behind the leaders, Are You Kidding Me loomed sitting outside of Gigantic Breeze (Gary Boulanger) and he launched his attack around the final turn with Melmich advancing. A stretch duel ensued as Melmich rallied alongside of Are You Kidding Me in the battle to the finish line. Gigantic Breeze closed gamely inside and finished half a length behind.
“I will be very honest, it was the horse because I just go by what he wants to do,” said Da Silva. “I have so much confidence, he’s a great horse and only a great horse can do that.”
Da Silva also praised Are You Kidding Me’s game effort.
“That is a very, very nice horse,” he said of the Roger Attfield trainee. “I work with him and I knew he was feeling very, very good for this race. You know, it’s two good horses, it could go either way. It was a great race.”
Undefeated in his six-year-old campaign, Melmich earned his third win and second straight graded stakes victory for owners Stephen Chesney and Cory Hoffman.
“I guess he got kind of squeezed leaving the gate a little bit and that might have thrown him off,” said Attard. “It looked like he was kind of struggling the first part of the race, but he kind of gathered himself and kind of ran his typical fashion.
“He made my heart go in my throat, but he got the head bob and he’s just a wonderful horse to have and I’m very fortunate.”
Bred in Ontario by Andrew Stronach, the Wilko-Little Swoon gelding has fashioned a lifetime record reading 14-7-3 from 30 starts while amassing $742,339 in purse earnings.
Sent postward as the even-money favourite, Melmich paid $4.20, $2.50 and $2.20. He combined with Are You Kidding Me ($2.80, $2.20) for a 3-7 exactor worth $11.40. A 3-7-1 triactor (Gigantic Breeze, $3.90) paid $18.90 and a $1 superfecta of 3-7-1-6 (Unbridled Juan) returned $38.55. Secret Passage, Keen Gizmo, and Bear’sway completed the order of finish.