Updated on 09/17/2011 2:16PM

Meridiana wins Orchid

Ryan McAlindenr/EQUI-PHOTO
Meridiana with Edgar Prado riding wins the $200,000 Orchid Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - When it comes to Gulfstream Park's Orchid Handicap, nobody does it better than trainer Christophe Clement.

Clement saddled his sixth Orchid winner and fifth in the last six years when Meridiana led throughout to register a 1.25 length victory over Savedbythelight in the $200,000, Grade 2 .

Clement won the Orchid for the first time in 1994 with Trampoli then waited four more years before reeling off four consecutive victories, from 1999 through 2002, with Coretta, Lisieux Rose, Innuendo and Julie Jalouse.

Clement gave a lot of the credit for Meridiana's victory to jockey Edgar Prado who put her right on the lead then slowed the pace down for the opening mile and one quarter of the 12 furlong Orchid. Turning into the stretch, Prado put Meridiana to a drive at which point she quickly opened two lengths on the field before withstanding a final surge from Savedbythelight.

Savedbythelight raced within easy striking distance, was carried a bit wide when Ocean Silk drifted out leaving the final turn but continued gamely once straightened away to finish a half length in front of the fast closing Miss Hellie.

Ocean Silk, the 2-1 favorite, stalked the winner's pace to the stretch but weakened late and finished a tiring eighth.

Meridiana is a 4-year-old daughter of Lomitas. A Group 1 winner in Italy at 3, she was purchased privately by Clement for owners Jon and Sarah Kelly last summer in New York. She paid $16.80 after covering the distance in 2:26.99 over a firm course.

"Edgar said in the paddock there was no pace in the race and he was thinking about going to the lead," said Clement. "And when you've got a jockey like Edgar I let him worry about the riding. I bought her for Mr. Kelly last summer and it took me a while to get her going but it's always nice when you buy an expensive horse and things turn out well."

Clement said Meridiana would likely make her next start in Belmont Park's Sheepshead Bay Handicap(Gr. 2) on May 29.

Minge Cove rallied from midpack to a 1.75 length decision over 3-1 favorite Vous in the $68,050 Via Borghese Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the grass earlier on Sunday's card.

Minge Cove is trained by Allen Iwinski and was ridden to victory by Chris DeCarlo. She returned $12.20. Her final time was 1:40.94 for one mile and one sixteenth.