04/21/2004 12:00AM

Meridiana wins Bewitch

Bill Straus/Keeneland
Meridiana (inside) wins the Grade 3, $113,400 Bewitch Stakes by a nose at Keeneland on Wednesday.

Finding an opening entering the stretch, Meridiana shook clear of traffic and scored a nose victory over Alternate in the Grade 3, $113,400 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland on Wednesday.

Meridiana was reserved off the pace in the 1 1/2-mile Bewitch. Jockey Edgar Prado placed Meridiana in third as Tempus Fugit set slow fractions over a yielding turf course.

Leaving the final turn, Meridiana fell back to fourth and was momentarily blocked. But once into the lane, Tempus Fugit quickly faded, giving the winner the opening she needed. She caught third-place finisher Binya, who had taken the lead in midstretch, then outkicked Alternate.

Meridiana ($12), trained by Christophe Clement, covered the distance in 2:31.05 before a rain-soaked crowd of 9,610.