07/01/2012 6:42PM

Fort Erie: Lucky Melissa emerges from pack in Rainbow Connection

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FORT ERIE, Ontario – Lucky Melissa took advantage of a speed battle on the front end to move inside of rivals, take command in the stretch,  and draw clear in the $125,000 Rainbow Connection Stakes at Fort Erie on Sunday.

Five of the eight runners in the field were heads apart going into the turn in the five-furlong turf event as the rail was left open for a stalking Lucky Melissa, ridden by Corey Fraser. Anywhere, the 3-2 favorite, and Aone Saucy Miss were also at the back of the field in the early going.

Fraser made a quick inside move with Lucky Melissa ($29.60) and she began to take charge as the field turned for home while the early speed rivals began to back out of it. Meanwhile, Anywhere was momentarily in tight on the turn, then found room and chased Lucky Melissa to the wire, without threatening that runner.

Aone Saucy Miss also took advantage of the tiring early speed and came on to finish third over a weakening Dance to the Moon,  who after dueling between rivals, faded and rounded out the $1,075.75 superfecta.

“It worked out well for me,” said Fraser. “I was sort of forced inside after the break and when the rail opened up it was clear sailing.”

Trained and co-owned by Carlo Fuoco, Lucky Melissa was attempting turf for only the third time. She was supplemented into the race by Fuoco and partner Joseph Trdak.

“After a turf event at Woodbine did not fill, we decided to try this event,” said Fuoco, “and I am certainly glad we did.”