By Ric Chapman
If American racegoers loved the true grit Australasian filly Happyanunoit displayed a few years back when she was sent to race in the U.S., they will go crazy when they see Australian sensation Special Harmony.
The owners of Australia's wonder filly, the chestnut bombshell Special Harmony (Spinning World -- Marooned Lady, by Marooned) announced they wanted to give her a shot at the American Oaks (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park.
On face value it came out of left field, but as she has already earned more than $1.5 million (Australian funds) , is a multiple graded stakes winner, and is fresh off a four-length win in the Woodstock Bourbon Moonee Valley Oaks (Aust-II) on March 20. She has also won the Crown Oaks and Vinery Stud Thousand Guineas (both Aust-I). Perhaps competing in the U.S. has merit.
And rest assured, this filly will
At present her record is nine wins from 14 starts and it seems the longer the race or the faster the tempo up front early, the easier time she has of it. Bred by Brian Bradley and Partners, Special Harmony is trained in Australia by master conditioner Lee Freedman who confirmed that her connections have explored the idea of shipping to Los Angeles for the American Oaks in June.
"A grade I win in the United States would make her worth an enormous amount of money," said Freedman. To date, all Special Harmony's wins have been on turf. The race at Hollywood Park, to be run July 3, has been elevated to grade I status for the first time this year. The ten furlong race is worth $750,000. It looks a magnificent gamble.
Special Harmony lives in Victoria and so do her owners. And the connections have been dealing with Racing Victoria's director of equine business development Mark Player on pursuing the option. Player said 3-year-olds on the Southern Hemisphere clock (which Australians are on) will be eligible to run in the race.
"It is not too far away being on the American West Coast and this would allow time to bring Special Harmony back to Australia for her spring campaign which would include both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups," Player said.
"Connections of the horse are giving great consideration to running in the race. The value of the mare when she retired with multi-millions in stakes earned and a U.S. grade I to her credit could not be measured. Of course we'd be delighted at another horse going out onto the international stage to show the quality of Australian horses," Player said.
The American Oaks is an invitational race and Player said Hollywood Park would provide assistance to get the filly to race.
Trainer Freedman has confirmed the US trip was on the drawing board, however, and understandably, he pointed out she would probably have to miss the W.S. Cox Plate (Aust-I) if she went. It is Australia's premier and most prestigious weight-for-age race and is worth A$2.8 million. Sunline won it twice in recent years and U.S. trainer Murray Johnson is contemplating bringing Perfect Drift to contest it this year.