02/20/2017 2:56PM

Cuddle Alert gives trainer Melissa Saldana her first stakes win

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Cuddle Alert, a $10,000 claim in August, stands in the winner's circle with trainer Melissa Saldana (right) after winning the Spring Fever Handicap on Sunday.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Trainer Melissa Saldana’s routine did not change after her first stakes win, which came with Cuddle Alert in Sunday’s $100,000 Spring Fever Handicap at Santa Anita.

She had too much to do on Monday.

Aside from looking after Cuddle Alert, Saldana is an assistant to trainer Mark Glatt, overseeing his division a Los Alamitos. On Monday, approximately 10 2-year-olds were scheduled to arrive there. With them in the barn, Saldana would have 25 horses for Glatt.

Getting a stakes win is not changing her job.

“I’m staying with Mark,” she said.

Saldana, 28, has worked for Glatt for two years, she said. In the last year, she has had a few runners on the side, getting her first win with the $8,000 claimer Individual Design at Santa Anita last June. Cuddle Alert is the only horse she has in training, having turned a few others over to another trainer.

“I kept the right one,” she said.

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Previously, Saldana worked in the receiving barn at Golden Gate Fields. She worked for trainer Richard Baltas for two years before joining Glatt’s staff.

Owners Leopoldo Urbina and Reed Saldana claimed Cuddle Alert out of a seventh-place finish for $10,000 at Del Mar last August. Cuddle Alert’s 8-1 upset win in the Spring Fever Handicap was her seventh start for Melissa Saldana. Cuddle Alert won two optional claimers during that span – a race for California-breds here in October and a race against open company on Jan. 6.

Cuddle Alert was fourth in the $151,035 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint here on Jan. 28. In the Spring Fever Handicap, against four rivals, Cuddle Alert closed from third to take the lead in the final strides of the six-furlong race for California-bred fillies and mares. Sunday Rules, a multiple graded stakes winner, finished third at 2-5.

Cuddle Alert ($18.40) was ridden by Agapito Delgadillo, who recovered from a spill in Sunday’s second race to ride his first stakes win since Forever Juanito won the Desert Code Stakes at Santa Anita in May 2014.

“She was telling me she was going to give her biggest effort,” Saldana said of Cuddle Alert. “I know Sunday Rules is a tough filly.”

Cuddle Alert is the first stakes winner for the California-based stallion Bedford Falls. She has won 6 of 21 starts and earned $229,000. Since being claimed, Cuddle Alert has won 3 of 7 starts and earned $164,265.

Saldana is in no hurry to start Cuddle Alert again.

“I think does better with time,” Saldana said. “She gives her all.”