In her stakes debut, Pam and Marty Wygod's homebred Harmonious swept to victory in the $250,000 American Oaks (gr. IT) (VIDEO), outlasting Antares World at Hollywood Park July 3.
Martin Garcia, aboard the 3-year-old daughter of Dynaformer for the first time, guided Harmonious to victory for trainer John Shirreffs. Harmonious, who debuted April 25, earned her third consecutive victory, all coming on the Hollywood turf. The winner is also owned by Emily Wygod.
Antares World finished second, 1 1/4 lengths behind Harmonious, with the last-race maiden winner Weekend Magic third. The final time was 2:01.77 over firm going.
Riviera Chic, tracked by Antares World, sprinted away to lead the rest of the field by about six lengths on the backstretch while setting quick early fractions of :23.46 and :47.26. Weekend Magic and Harmonious, who was racing on the outside, cut into the advantage approaching the turn and Riviera Chic backed out soon after completing six furlongs in 1:12.07. City to City, ridden by Joel Rosario, made an eye-catching move on the far outside approaching the quarter pole to get the advantage over Antares World and Frank Alvarado.
But the early move backfired on City to City. She gave way readily in the lane as Antares World, challenged by Harmonious, took over. Harmonious, who had some traffic issues on the final turn, closed relentlessly to battle a determined Antares World, who led by a half-length on the inside, through the stretch. Harmonious got the better of the duel under urging in deep stretch to edge away impressively. Antares World was a clear second by 1 1/4 lengths. Weekend Magic, at 59-1, got third over a rallying Andina by a nose.
Harmonious, out of the Storm Cat mare Jade Tree, began her career by finishing fifth in a field of nine maiden fillies at 6 1/2 furlongs over Hollywood's Cushion Track. Shirreffs moved her to the turf and stretched her out to a mile for her next start May 16 and Harmonious came from far back to defeat a field of 11 by one length. In her next start June 12 she got up by a half-length over first-level allowance rivals at nine furlongs.
That win gave Shirreffs an idea she might be this good.
“We had a lot of high hopes for her. She showed us a lot," he said. "When she won that allowance race going a mile and one-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 one-quarter with a 3-year-old filly that hasn’t done it.”
Mike Smith rode the good-looking dark bay or brown filly in all her prior starts. But Smith was committed to Cozi Rosie for the American Oaks, leaving the mount for the red-hot Garcia.
“John told me to let her break and then make her really comfortable," Garcia said after registering his first grade I victory at Hollywood Park. "I thought that if she relaxed she could win. So what I did was just break her and let her relax.
"At the three-eighths a horse outside passed me (City to City), but I didn’t want to move with her so what I did was take a hold and just follow her. Turning for home, when she got in front she started looking around for company. She really is a nice filly. She was waiting for more. She wanted to keep going and going and going.”
Harmonious earned $150,000 for the victory and has now banked $202,420 in her brief career.
Under equal weight of 121 pounds, she paid $7, $4.60, and $4 as the third choice. Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams' homebred Antares World, based at Golden Gate Fields for trainer Steve Specht, returned $10.60 and $7.80 in a superb effort. The exacta was worth $75.60. Weekend Magic, who was a 4 1/2-length maiden winner in her most recent start for owner/trainer Myung Kwon Cho, was $16.80 to show.
Andina was followed by City to City, Conniption, and Riviera Chic.