Updated on 09/16/2011 7:41AM

Atelier gives Shug No. 5

Atelier holds off Summer Colony to post the biggest win of her career in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Handicap at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Shug McGaughey had won the Grade 2 at Monmouth four times, the most of any trainer in the race's 56-year history. But on Saturday, the odds that he would win his fifth with Atelier were not good.

Atelier, sent off at 8-1 in the five-horse field, may have given McGaughey his most rewarding Molly Pitcher victory yet, pulling off a huge upset to capture the $300,000 Molly Pitcher by one length over the 3-5 favorite Summer Colony. Spain, sent off at 6-5, was 3 1/4 lengths behind Summer Colony in third.

The Molly Pitcher, televised live on CBS, was billed as a showdown between Summer Colony, trained by Mark Hennig, and the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Spain to decide the top filly in the East. Summer Colony entered the race with seven wins in eight starts, and 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Spain, racing in foal to Storm Cat (as she did in the Fleur de Lis), has had a resurgence at the age of 5, with two Grade 2 victories.

Spain, the 122-pound highweight, broke well under Jorge Chavez, taking an early lead out of the gate, while Summer Colony (119) and jockey John Velazquez floated four wide around the clubhouse turn. Atelier (115), with Eibar Coa in the saddle, broke last, but Coa seized an early opportunity when Spain took the field wide into the first turn. Coa guided Atelier up the rail and to the lead, a position she would not relinquish at any point in the race.

Nearing the final turn, Spain began to lose ground while Summer Colony moved within 1 1/2 lengths of Atelier. Summer Colony got within one length of Atelier at the eighth pole but could not get any closer.

Atelier ($18) covered the nine furlongs in 1:48.63 over a fast track before a crowd of 11,771. Southern Fiction and Extend finished fourth and fifth, respectively, to complete the field.

McGaughey was unable to attend the race because he is recuperating from triple bypass surgery on June 13. McGaughey has saddled champion fillies Personal Ensign and Inside Information to wins in the Molly Pitcher, but Atelier's credentials aren't on the same level as those two.

Owned by Helen Alexander and Helen Groves, Atelier was a multiple Grade 3 winner in 2000 and 2001, but the Molly Pitcher is her biggest career victory to date. Atelier, who finished fourth in the 2001 Breeders' Cup Distaff, was winless in three starts this year entering the Molly Pitcher.

"She showed what kind of filly she really is today," assistant trainer Buzz Tenney said. "This win should get Shug's blood flowing better."

* The NTRA Pick Three, starting with the Molly Pitcher and going through the Arlington Classic, won by Mr. Mellon ($6.80), and the Mother Goose at Belmont, won by Nonsuch Bay ($7), paid $277.60; $179,606 was wagered in the pick three pool.