08/30/2009 12:00AM

Luna Vega outduels Spritely in Molly Pitcher


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Luna Vega outdueled Spritely for a 1 1/2-length victory Sunday in the for fillies and mares at Monmouth Park.

Last time out, they squared off in the Grade 1 Go For Wand Handicap earlier this month at Saratoga. Neither was a match for Seventh Street that afternoon with Spritely finishing third and Luna Vega sixth.

They took their rivalry to the Jersey Shore with Luna Vega ($13) prevailing for her first stakes victory.

The race unfolded with Jessica Is Back and Devil House battling for the lead with Spritely sitting third, an ideal stalking trip.

Luna Vega was the early trailer up the first turn before advancing on the swing down the backstretch.

Chris DeCarlo asked Spritely for her run midway on the final turn, and she edged past the fading pacesetters. But she soon had company as Luna Vega ranged alongside and gradually pulled clear in the final sixteenth of a mile with Elvis Trujillo aboard for his fifth winner on the card.

"There was a lot of speed in the race so I just stayed behind everyone," Trujillo said. "At the three-eighths pole, I came out and she ran a good race from there."

A 4-year-old trained by Steve Asmussen, Luna Vega ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:41.91.

Devil House held third followed by Jessica Is Back, Euphony, and You Asked.

It was a disappointing effort from Euphony, the 17-10 favorite who had won 9-of-12 races throughout the Midwest and the Southwest.

"I don t know if she didn't handle the track or not," said Cliff Berry who was aboard for trainer Donnie Von Hemel. "Going around the turn, I could tell she wasn't going to run today. On the backside, she was pulling. I'm not sure what happened. She just didn't feel like running today."