07/02/2016 6:04PM

My Sweet Girl goes from last to first in Perfect Sting

Barbara D. Livingston
My Sweet Girl, under Manny Fraco, edges Neck of the Moon by a neck in the Perfect Sting.

ELMONT, N.Y. - In a bulky 11-horse field, trainer Barclay Tagg thought it would be possible for jockey Manny Franco to get My Sweet Girl behind at least a couple of horses in the early stages of Saturday’s $100,000 Perfect Sting Stakes at Belmont Park.

When the race scratched down to a field of six, he was less optimistic about those tactics.

“I wanted her behind one or two or three horses, then they kept scratching out and I said ‘Well, get her back behind one horse,’ “ Tagg said.

When My Sweet Girl broke a step slow, she was behind all five of her rivals and stayed there for the first half-mile. When swung into the clear midway around the turn by Franco, My Sweet Girl picked up the pace and in the stretch she kicked into another gear and corralled Neck of the Moon in the final yards to win the Perfect Sting by a neck. It was three-quarters of a length to 3-5 favorite Onus in third. She was followed by Mississippi Delta, Notte d’Oro, and Old Harbor.

The win was the fourth from 16 starts for My Sweet Girl but just her second from 11 tries on turf. My Sweet Girl, a 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini owned and bred by Joyce B Young, is out of the graded turf stakes winning mare Bit of Whimsy. She is a half-sister to the graded turf stakes winner Caroline Thomas.

Tagg had equipped My Sweet Girl with blinkers two starts back and though she won an off-the-turn allowance race at Belmont in the slop she ran off and tired to fourth in the Miss Liberty Stakes at Monmouth.

Hence, Tagg wanted My Sweet Girl covered up early on Saturday.

“I told him to cover up, get behind one horse if you can because if you show her all that air she’s going to be tugging on you too hard,” Tagg said. “Get her behind one horse. Then she broke bad and he just stayed back there.”

Franco, who has had a sensational meet with 45 victories - third behind the Ortiz brothers in the standings - said he moved a little early because the half-mile went in a slow 49.32 seconds.

“I moved her a little bit early because the speed was not too fast,” Franco said.

Neck of the Moon had taken over in midstretch from pacesetting Old Harbor and pace-prompting Onus and looked on her way to give Irad Ortiz Jr. his fifth victory of the day. But My Sweet Girl kept coming until she finally got there.

My Sweet Girl covered the mile over a Widener turf course listed as yielding in 1:35.75 and returned $31.60 as the second-longest shot on the board.