Ladies In Red returned to the winner’s circle when she made it back-to-back victories in the $30,000 Angelique Club Pace at Melton on Saturday night.
Having only her second race-day appearance in almost 12 months, Ladies In Red atoned for her first-up defeat by Rakero Rebel a fortnight earlier when she prevailed for the 23rd time in 29 starts.
Sent out a $1.35 favorite, Ladies In Red settled one-out, one-back before David Moran made a mid-race move to sit parked outside stablemate Tough Tilly and that pair appeared set to fight out the race.
Ladies In Red forged clear in the home straight and held off the fast-finishing Treachery to score by a neck in a mile rate of 1:54.9.
Moran said he wasn't disappointed by Ladies In Red's runner-up effort when resuming.
"Her run last week was terrific. It was a long time to have out and come back in this grade against some of these mares," Moran said.
Moran said he expects the five-year-old to be in finer fettle for next week's Group 1 Benstud Standardbreds Queen Of The Pacific.
"And tonight will make her even sharper and better again when she is stepping up in trip next week to the 2760 metres," he said.
The win completed a double for Moran, who partnered Curly James to a minor upset in the Gammalite Free For All.
Curly James worked to the front early in the race and was kept company by the $1.33 favorite Catch A Wave for the final 1600 metres.
Despite pulling hard mid-race, Catch A Wave put his head in front around the home turn after a blistering 26.8 back straight quarter, however Curly James ($6) fought back tenaciously in the home straight to score by three metres from La Captain in a race record mile rate of 1:54.0.
Moran admitted he wasn't sure of the outcome when the two leaders upped the tempo in the back straight.
"I didn't think we had it won too far out. Catch A Wave is a great horse, we were lucky enough to get a pretty cheap lead time and the first quarter was reasonably easy for this class," he said.
"Half way up the straight we were probably travelling as good as each other and I had the advantage of the inside running. He kept poking his head out and did well."
Leading trainer Emma Stewart completed a feature race double when Very Pretty made it two wins from as many starts by leading all the way in the Tatlow Stakes (2YO Fillies).
With Mark Pitt sitting quietly, the daughter of American Ideal threw a 26.6 last 400 metres at her rivals to score by eight metres from stablemate Free To Play.
"I was really happy with her first-up run, but I thought she was a lot sharper and was more like a racehorse tonight," Pitt said.