07/05/2013 5:07PM

Belmont Park: Villanesca gets up to win Magnolia Jackson Stakes

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Villanesca, with Joel Rosario riding, is the half-length winner of the Magnolia Jackson.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin had simple instructions for Joel Rosario before his ride on Villanesca in Friday’s $100,000 Magnolia Jackson Stakes at Belmont Park.

“Try to get to the winner’s circle,” McLaughlin said he told Rosario. “You’re winning for everybody else. I’m not going to tell you to lay first or fourth.”

Rosario did indeed follow instructions. Despite breaking last in the field of five and having a trio of horses in front of him approaching the quarter pole, Rosario swung Villanesca four-wide in upper stretch, and the pair ran down Expression to win the $100,000 Magnolia Jackson by a half-length.

It was the fourth win - and first stakes - from seven starts for Villanesca, who hadn’t run since March 1. She was scratched from the Distaff at Aqueduct on April 13 after getting cast in her stall the night before the race.

It was the 36th stakes victory this year - the most of any rider in the country in 2013 - for Rosario and fifth in six days.

After breaking last, Villanesca advanced into third, along the inside, while Promise Me a Cat ran an opening quarter in 22.67 seconds while being pursued by Sure Route. Approaching the quarter pole it was those two along with Expression who made a wall of three turning for home, before Rosario was able to maneuver to the outside.

She was able to outkick Expression, who finished second by two lengths over Promise Me a Cat.

Villanesca, a Darley Stable homebred daughter of Distorted Humor out of the Grade 1 winning mare Balletto, covered the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.45 and returned $5.90 to win.

Races like the Grade 2 Honorable Miss at Saratoga on July 29 and/or the Grade 1 Ballerina on Aug. 23 are possible for Villanesca.