04/30/2005 12:00AM

Maddalena wins despite slow start


Maddalena had to work harder than expected as the 1-5 favorite in the $75,000 Legal Light Stakes on Saturday's opening day program at Delaware Park.

Making her first start since sustaining her only career defeat in the Grade 2 Forward Gal at Gulfstream on March 5, Maddalena ($2.60) broke slowly, sat slightly off the pace, swung three wide into the stretch, and wore down pacesetter All Platinum after a long drive to prevail by a length.

Ridden by Ramon Dominguez for trainer Todd Pletcher, Maddalena covered six furlongs over a sloppy track in 1:11.68.

It was the ninth winner in 16 starts for Pletcher at Delaware in 2004-05. This year, for the first time, Pletcher has a 40-horse string stabled at the track.

"She just broke a little flat footed," said Dominguez, who was riding Maddalena for the first time after John Velazquez had been aboard for her first four career races. "I understand that is basically what she had done at Gulfstream Park, so this the second time she has done it.

"She got a little tired because it was her first race over the track," Dominguez added. "Even if she was training on it, it seems like a lot of horses still need a race over the track."