01/26/2013 4:37PM

Laurel: No misadventures for Moon Philly in Nellie Morse

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Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Moon Philly, under Jeremy Rose, cruises to her first career stakes victory in the Nellie Morse.

Moon Philly got involved in all sorts of misadventures three weeks ago in New York that prevented her from winning her first career stakes. It was all smooth sailing, however, when she ran in Saturday’s $75,000 Nellie Morse Stakes at Laurel Park.

Facing just three rivals in an overnight stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 6, Moon Philly stumbled at the start, but recovered well enough to engage pacesetter Wildcat’s Smile. But with about three-sixteenths of a mile remaining in the mile-and-70-yard race, Wildcat’s Smile broke down. Moon Philly, ridden by Jeremy Rose, had to jump over the mortally injured Wildcat’s Smile and her thrown jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr. She still managed to finish second, beaten only a length.

There were no such dramatics in the 1 1/16-mile Nellie Morse for fillies and mares. Sitting comfortably about two lengths off the early pace set by Touch the Birds, the 4-year-old Moon Philly ($3.20) went after the leader early in the stretch and drew clear to a 3 1/4-length victory.

It was the third stakes win within the past six days of racing in Maryland for Mike Trombetta, who won the Frank Whiteley with Ore Pass last Saturday and the Native Dancer with Private Tale this past Monday.

Trombeta trains Moon Philly for Country Life Farm. The winning time was 1:44.67.

Touch the Birds, making her first start since November and running in only her second stakes, set easy fractions of 24.69 seconds and 49.19 seconds before giving way in the stretch, yet managed to hang on to second at 17-1. Access to Charlie finished third at 7-1.

“She’s getting better each start,” said Rose. “I like how many gears she has. It is hard to win the big races with true speed. There is always somebody to push you. True closers can’t always get there, so to win the big races you need to have tactical speed and multiple gears. She has those multiple gears and is very easy to ride.”

Rose said the key to the race was getting Moon Philly, a daughter of Malibu Moon, close enough during the short run to the first turn to be in striking position.

“I felt like I had the lead horse any time I wanted to,” Rose said. “I wanted to make sure we were in that second flight. I didn’t want to get shuffled back going into the first turn.

Moon Philly has now won 3 of her last 5 starts and is 5 for 13 lifetime.