04/26/2014 7:48PM

Rovenna holds on by neck in Melair

Benoit & Associates
Rovenna, ridden by Victor Esinoza, holds off 23-1 longshot Wonderful Lie to win the Melair.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Rovenna needed a little more effort than expected in the stretch to extend her winning streak to three races in Saturday’s $250,000 Melair Stakes for 3-year-old California-bred fillies at Santa Anita.

But the rival who posed a threat was not the stakes winner Swiss Lake Yodeler, but a 23-1 outsider in Wonderful Lie,  who was making her stakes debut. Rovenna won the Melair Stakes over 1 1/16 miles by a neck.

“The last sixteenth was a little tougher than I thought it would be,” jockey Victor Espinoza said.

Rovenna, who races for owner and breeder Don Dizney, won the $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for California-breds over 6 1/2 furlongs on April 5 by disputing the pace. In the Melair Stakes, Rovenna stalked pacesetters Magic Spot and Wonderful Lie before taking the lead on the final turn.

Magic Spot faded from contention on the turn, but Wonderful Lie remained a factor. Rovenna, who paid $6 as the favorite, led by a head with a furlong to go, and finished in 1:43.86.

 “I rode her before from off the pace,” Espinoza said. “I think she can go either way. I wanted to save as much as possible.

“She’s getting more mature. Before, she was a little green and ran spotty. Now, she’s more professional.”

Swiss Lake Yodeler finished third, but was beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Wonderful Lie. Anniversary Kitty was fourth, followed by Harlington’s Rose, Magic Spot,  and Versye.

Rovenna has won 4 of 9 starts and $397,760. The current winning streak began with a win in an optional claimer over 6 1/2 furlongs on Feb. 17. Earlier in her career, Rovenna was second or third in three stakes for California-breds, including a second to Swiss Lake Yodeler in the Soviet Problem Stakes at Hollywood Park last December.

Wonderful Lie races for a partnership and trainer Dan Blacker. The Melair Stakes was her third career start. By Bedford Falls, Wonderful Lie beat maidens in her debut on Jan. 20 and was fourth behind Rovenna on Feb. 17, her most recent start.

“I thought she’d like two turns, but you never know until you try it,” Blacker said. “You don’t get many opportunities to run for that money in a 3-year-old filly restricted race. Hopefully, she’ll keep improving.”