08/31/2008 11:00PM

Mani Bhavan wins Spinaway to go 3 for 3

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Mani Bhavan had won her first two starts so convincingly that one of the few questions surrounding her was how she would respond when challenged.

Question asked and answered.

Mani Bhavan, undefeated winner of the Grade 2 Adirondack, had made all the pace under Alan Garcia in Sunday's Grade 1 Spinaway when Jardin, undefeated winner of the Grade 3 Schuylerville, was charging at her on the outside in upper stretch. But Jardin, under Robby Albarado, began to lug in at the sixteenth pole and Mani Bhavan maintained a straight course to take the $250,000 Spinaway by 1 1/4 lengths.

Jardin finished second by 5 1/4 lengths over Collegiate. Casanova Move, Winning Brew, and August Rush, who stumbled at the break, completed the order of finish.

As she had done in the Adirondack 18 days ago, Mani Bhavan opened up a clear lead in the blink of an eye out of the starting gate. She set strong early fractions of 22.18 and 45.46 seconds for the opening half-mile. Mani Bhavan maintained a two-length lead at the eighth pole, when Jardin came at her before drifting in.

Mani Bhavan, a daughter of Storm Boot, owned by Jeff Puglisi and Mike Ryan, ran a final eighth in 14.20 seconds and covered the seven furlongs in 1:25.23 and returned $3.40 as the favorite.

"Gutsy performance," winning trainer Steve Klesaris said. "She was tried today. Runner-up ran a great race and she really dug in game to fight her off."

The victory gave Puglisi his first Grade 1 victory. Coincidentally, Puglisi was the underbidder on Jardin, who was purchased by Padua Stable for $425,000 at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale.

"We got the Grade 1, now we can give her a little break," said Puglisi, who will now consider his options on how to get Mani Bhavan to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 24 at Santa Anita.