INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 3, 2010)-Unraced when the meet began, Harmonious is now a Grade 1 winner a bit more than two months later after a 1 ¼ length victory in the $250,000 American Oaks (video) Saturday at Hollywood Park.
In her initial appearance in a graded affair, the 3-year-old Dynaformer filly out of the Storm Cat mare Jade Tree won her third in a row on turf, rallying in the center of the course under Martin Garcia to get the best of 12-1 shot Antares World approaching the finish.
Owned by breeders Pam, Marty and Emily Wygod and trained by John Shirreffs, Harmonious completed the 1 ¼ miles in 2:01.77. In the process, the 5-2 third choice provided her 25-year-old rider with his first Grade 1 success at Hollywood Park.
Fifth going 6 ½ furlongs on Cushion Track in her debut on April 25, Harmonious stretched out to a mile on grass and defeated maidens on May 16. Her other win prior to the American Oaks came in a first level allowance at nine furlongs on June 12.
Favored in her two earlier wins, Harmonious paid $7, $4.60 and $4. Antares World, who was part of some quick early fractions for the distance while closest to pacesetter Riviera Chic, returned $10.60 and $7.80. Weekend Magic, the longest shot in the field at 59-1, was third, 1 ¼ lengths behind Antares World and a nose in front of 2-1 second choice Andina. The show price on Weekend Magic was $16.80.
“We had a lot of high hopes for her,’’ said Shirreffs, who has two stakes wins this season in Inglewood, both in Grade 1’s. He won the Vanity with the undefeated Zenyatta on June 13.
“She showed us a lot. When she won the allowance race going a mile and an eighth we knew she wanted more distance and thought she could handle more distance. That was exactly what we wanted, not to move early. Especially at a mile and a quarter with a 3-year-old filly that hasn’t done it.’’
Garcia had never ridden Harmonious before Saturday. Mike Smith had been her jockey in the first four races, but he was scheduled to be aboard Cozi Rosie in the American Oaks. However, the Pleasantly Perfect filly, who almost certainly would have been favored, was scratched Friday by trainer John Sadler.
“John told me to let her break and then make her really comfortable,’’ said Garcia. “He thought that if she relaxed she could win. So what I did was just break and let her relax. At the three-eighths a horse outside me passed me, but I didn’t want to move with her, so what I did was take a hold and just follow her.
“When she got in front she started looking around for company. She is a really a nice filly. She was waiting for more. She wanted to keep going and going and going.’’
City To City, the 2-1 favorite, finished fifth, then came Conniption and Riviera Chic.
Earlier in the program, Gotta Have Her, making her second start of 2010, won for the second time on the Hollywood Park grass with a last-to-first victory in the $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile.
Owned by Green Lantern Stables and trained by Jenine Sahadi, the 6-year-old Royal Academy mare out of the Rahy mare Winnowing won for the ninth time in 27 starts. She has earned $972,608.
In winning for the third time at the distance, Gotta Have Her, the 11-10 favorite, was clocked in 1:34.98. She now has three graded victories after the Grade II score.
Reserved off the pace after a rugged beginning under jockey Tyler Baze, Gotta Have Her angled outside for the stretch run, took over the lead with less than an eighth of a mile to run and defeated a stubborn Burg Berg by a half-length.
“I got shut off really bad right out of the gate and after that I just had to go out there and ride the rest of the race with a lot of confidence,’’ said Baze, who has been aboard for five of Gotta Have Her’s wins. “I know she’s going to give me what she has. Whatever’s in her tank, she’s always going to give it. She always has and she always will.
“She’s a very special mare for me and I’m looking forward to bigger and better things with her.’’
The high weight at 121 pounds, Gotta Have Her paid $4.20, $2.80 and $2.10. Burg Berg, an 8-1 shot who set the pace, returned $6 and $2.80. She finished one length in front of 7-5 second choice U R All That I Am, who paid $2.20 to show.
Although shut out in the stakes, Joel Rosario did win four times Saturday – after three victories Friday night – to pull into a tie atop the jockey standings with Rafael Bejarano. Both have 61 wins with 10 days remaining. Baze is third with 57.
Rosario’s victories came with Spirit Of Cochise in the third, Rockstar Ben in the seventh, Precious Union in the ninth and Very Vintage in the 10th.
Racing resumes Sunday. Post time is 1 p.m.
The feature of the nine race card is the $150,000 American Handicap. Ten older horses are scheduled to run 1 1/8 miles on turf in the Grade II.
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