Speedy Miss Harriett Stretching Out in Weber City Miss

April 19, 2024

Miss Harriett zipping to the score in the Wide Country (Jim McCue/MJC)

‘Win and In’ for 3YO Fillies to 100th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 17

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David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

LAUREL, Md.— Miss Harriett, bred and owned by David Baxter’s Narrow Leaf Farms in Dayton, Md., will look to stretch her speed around two turns for the first time as she chases a third career stakes victory in Saturday’s $125,000 Weber City Miss at Laurel Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Weber City Miss for 3-year-old fillies serves as co-headliner with the $125,000 Federico Tesio – a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated 3-year-olds to the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1) – on an 11-race program featuring five stakes worth $550,000 in purses.

Also scheduled are the first three stakes on Laurel’s world-class turf course – the $100,000 Henry S. Clark for 3-year-olds and up and $100,000 Dahlia for fillies and mares 3 and older, both going one mile, and $100,000 King T. Leatherbury for 3-year-olds and up sprinting 5 ½ furlongs.

First race post time is 12:25 p.m.

In its ninth year, the Weber City Miss once again affords the winner an automatic berth to the $300,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) on Preakness Eve, May 17, at historic Pimlico Race Course. Of the seven previous winners that went on to Pimlico, Lights of Medina came the closest to sweeping both races when she was second by a head in 2017 for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. Cats Inthe Timber upset last year’s Weber City Miss at odds of 7-1 before running sixth in the Black-Eyed Susan.

Based with trainer Brandon McFarlane at Pimlico, Miss Harriett kicked off her sophomore season with back-to-back wins at Laurel, where she is 3-for-4 lifetime. After romping by seven lengths in a first-level optional claiming allowance Jan. 14, she held on for a three-quarter-length victory in the seven-furlong Wide Country Feb. 24, her longest race to date.

Off those front-running efforts, the connections brought Miss Harriett to Aqueduct for the six-furlong Cicada March 16. Worked up before the race and brushed at the start, she trailed horses for the first time since her debut last fall and wound up last of four under jockey Kendrick Carmouche, beaten 14 lengths.

“The allowance win was real nice and then she came back and won the stakes,” McFarlane said. “The trip [to New York] really wore her out. I’d never seen her do it but she kind of washed out in the paddock and she was sweating. And Kendrick said she never gripped the track at all. He was trying to get after her and she couldn’t get over the surface. So, we brought her back and decided to stay here [in Maryland] for the next start.”

When an allowance sprint for the same day didn’t fill, McFarlane decided it was time to give the Maryland-bred daughter of Blofeld – a Grade 2 winner at six furlongs and twice at one mile – a chance to stretch out.

“You always have to try a horse once or twice and give them a shot going long, because that would create a whole different setup. If you could have a horse go long, then you’ve got a lot of options,” McFarlane said. “She doesn’t train like it’s going to be a problem, but it’s hard to say. I’ve had the family and they’re all pretty much sprinters. Usually seven furlongs is their max, but I know Blofeld went long, so maybe she’ll like it.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Miss Harriett has done the unexpected. She went unraced at 2 until making her debut in mid-October in the six-furlong Maryland Million Lassie, springing a neck upset at odds of 62-1. Baxter also won the 2012 Maryland Million Nursery with a first-time starter, Keep Momma Happy.

“That got everybody, that one,” McFarlane said of the Lassie. “Hopefully she can do it again.”

Maryland’s 2023 champion rider Jaime Rodriguez, up for both her Laurel wins this year, returns to the irons from Post 2 in a field of eight.

“It’s a good gauge race and hopefully she surprises us. It’s not going to be easy, so we’ll get a good idea of how she is,” McFarlane said. “If she doesn’t like it, we’ll probably shorten her up and run her in one of the sprints on Preakness weekend.”

Five other stakes winners are entered in the Weber City Miss, two from Midwest-based trainer Ken McPeek. Dixiana Farms’ Band of Gold won the 1 1/16-mile Martha Washington over a sloppy Oaklawn Park surface Feb. 3 and exits a sixth in the Bourbonette Oaks on Turfway’s all-weather surface March 23. Walking L Thoroughbreds’ Shimmering Allure captured the one-mile Tempted and was second in the 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle (G2) last fall at Aqueduct, and most recently ran sixth in the Ashland (G1) April 5.

Cash is King and LC Racing’s Jeanne Marie returned from more than seven months away to register a front-running victory in the one-mile, 70-yard Main Line March 5 at her home track of Parx. A & J Racing Stable’s Aoife’s Magic, also based at Parx, won a pair of Pennsylvania-bred stakes last year and was third in the one-mile Beyond The Wire March 23 at Laurel.

Determined Driver, bred and owned by D Hatman Thoroughbreds, was a 12 ½-length winner of the Beyond The Wire, her third win and first in a stakes from five starts, also having run second in the Wide Country and 2023 Timonium Juvenile, the latter against males. Trainer Mike Trombetta will also send out R. Larry Johnson homebred Call Another Play, riding a two-race win streak into her stakes debut.

Completing the field is Red Storm Stable and Flower Power Stables’ Grammy Girl, making just her third career start. Based with trainer Horacio DePaz at Laurel, she is a daughter of Mastery, who went 4-0 in her brief career including wins in the 2016 Bob Hope (G3) and Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and 2017 San Felipe (G2), the latter two at 1 1/16 miles.

Unraced at 2, Grammy Girl broke slowly but found herself on the lead in her Feb. 10 debut at Laurel before tiring to third in the seven-furlong maiden special weight. She returned in a similar spot going 1 1/16 miles and responded with a front-running 7 ½-length triumph under regular rider Victor Carrasco.

“I liked her first time out. We drew the one-hole and the way the race kind of shaped up, she’s a pretty forward filly. She hasn’t been the best of gate horses in the morning and she kind of missed the break a little bit and then kind of rushed up and was overly eager and aggressive,” DePaz said. “She’s a very competitive filly. We were happy with that race. It looked like she could have folded and she hung in there for third. A horse came up outside of her and she wanted to compete with it.

“Seven furlongs first time out is always tough,” he added. “We were very happy with her last race. We just wanted to try and rate her and not let her do too much early on, and Victor did a good job to just let her get established up front and control the race. She still ran a little bit green down the lane but that’s to be expected in just her second start. She’s much better for the effort.”

Having broken from the rail in each of her first two starts, Grammy Girl drew outermost Post 8 in the Weber City Miss with Carrasco back aboard.

“I don’t mind the post,” DePaz said. “Hopefully we break well. There seems to be more speed in the race and horses that like to be placed forwardly, so we’re just going to see how the race shapes up. Hopefully she won’t get caught too wide on the first turn and can get a good position. We’ll see how she fares against those fillies.

“Obviously, if she runs well it opens up some doors, and we can still go back to the allowance. There’s always that thought that maybe we try her on the turf, as well, at some point,” he added. “This will give us a good gauge on what kind of filly she is.”

Weber City Miss won the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Hilltop and finished second in the Alabama (G1) and third in the Ladies Handicap (G1) to be named Maryland-bred champion 3-year-old filly of 1980. Nine of her 17 career wins came in stakes, including the 1982 Beldame (G1). As a broodmare, her first foal was multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Slew City Slew. 

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