01/14/2012 6:02PM

Tampa Bay: Salad Girl holds off Delightful Magic in Gasparilla

John Duca/Tom Cooley Photography
Salad Girl, ridden by Angel Serpa, collects her second straight stakes win in the Gasparilla.

Salad Girl, slipping through along the rail turning for home, opened a daylight lead with a furlong remaining, and then had enough left to turn back the late challenge of favored Delightful Magic and come away with a hard-earned neck victory in the  $100,000 Gasparilla Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.

With jockey Angel Serpa contributing a dazzling ride, Salad Girl covered the seven furlongs over a fast racing strip in 1:24.14 to post her third win from four career starts. She was making her first start since winning the six-furlong Jersey Juvenile at Monmouth Park ijn late October.

“I was farther back than I hoped to be, so all I could do was take hold and wait,” Serpa said. “When I saw the rail open, I asked her and she responded so good. She went through so fast. Then when she felt that other filly outside her, I rode her hard and she responded again. She is such a nice filly.”

Trained by Eddie Plesa Jr., Salad Girl returned a generous $18.40.

Delightful Magic, the third-place finisher in the Grade 3 Delta Princess last time out, raced wide much of the trip and wound up 1 1/2  lengths in front of  third-place Ciguarya in the field of 10.