Speedyness, Miss Harriett Capture Laurel Stakes

February 24, 2024

Speedyness wins the Miracle Wood under Jaime Rodriguez (Maryland Jockey Club)

Meet-Leading Jockey Jaime Rodriguez Rides Both Winners

David Joseph/Maryland Jockey Club

LAUREL, Md.— Morris Kernan and Jagger Inc.’s Speedyness, unable to hold the lead after setting the pace in his prior stakes attempt nearly three months ago, had no such trouble in Saturday’s $100,000 Miracle Wood, pulling away for a front-running 1 ½-length triumph at Laurel Park.

The 29th running of the one-mile Miracle Wood, the next stop for 3-year-olds on Maryland’s road to the 149th Preakness Stakes (G1), Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, co-headlined a nine-race program with the 31st edition of $100,000 Wide Country for 3-year-old fillies sprinting seven furlongs.

Following the Miracle Wood are the 1 1/16-mile Private Terms March 23 and 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio April 20, the latter a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for Triple Crown-nominated horses to the Preakness May 18 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Sent off as the 4-5 favorite in a field of seven, Speedyness ($3.60) gave winter Heritage Meet-leading jockey Jaime Rodriguez a sweep of Saturday’s stakes after taking the Wide Country aboard Miss Harriett. Rodriguez also won the opener with Assume Nothing ($5).

“I feel grateful. I’m thankful to be healthy and have the support of my family and everybody,” Rodriguez said. “My daughter is celebrating her birthday today. I dedicate all the wins today to her. I’m very happy to have a big day today.”

Speedyness outran multiple stakes winner Sweet Soddy J for the lead, going a quarter-mile in 24.03 seconds racing on the inside with Point Dume three wide in third, Triple Crown-nominated Startswithadream saving ground in fourth and Regalo fifth.

The order remained unchanged after the half went in 47.68 seconds, when Point Dume started to creep closer and Circle P – making his first start since a victory in the Maryland Juvenile Dec. 2 at Laurel – began a bid widest of all midway around the far turn. Speedyness straightened for home in front and kept Point Dume at bay to win in 1:39.95 over a fast main track.

Circle P was a half-length behind Point Dume in third, followed by Startswithadream, Sweet Soddy J, Regalo and Cool in Blue. Multiple stakes winner and program favorite Copper Tax, Formal Affair, Cap Com and Had to Have Him were scratched.

“I was a little bit insecure because it looked like there was some speed in the race and he was going to have a little bit of pressure,” Rodriguez said. “He showed me today he’s going to battle all the way to the end. I was a little bit worried when we turned for home but once I asked him he just dug in and kept going. He’s got heart.”

Speedyness bred, co-owned and trained by Jamie Ness, owns five wins, all at Laurel, from nine starts. The Great Notion gelding was 11th in the Maryland Million Nursery and had to settle for third, beaten 5 ¾ lengths by Circle P in the Maryland Juvenile.

At ages 2 and 3, Maryland-bred Miracle Wood won or placed in 13 stakes including seconds in the Jim Beam (G3) and Woodlawn (G3) prior to a fifth behind Snow Chief as the longest shot on the board (20-1) in the 1986 Preakness Stakes (G1). He was retired in 1992 after winning 14 of 117 starts and nearly a half-million dollars in purse earnings.

Miss Harriett a frontrunning winner of the Wide Country (Maryland Jockey Club)

Narrow Leaf Farm’s Miss Harriett broke sharply and led every step of the way under jockey Jaime Rodriguez, turning away a belated bid from Determined Driver for a three-quarter-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Wide Country.

It was the second stakes win for Miss Harriett ($5), bred in Maryland by her owner, David Baxter, and second straight this year after returning from two months between starts. The Blofeld filly won the Maryland Million Lassie at odds of 62-1 in her debut last fall.

“The layoff really helped her a lot. I think the time allowed her to develop. She got a little bigger and a little stronger,” winning trainer Brandon McFarlane said. “She was dealing with some little injuries but [after] the layoff she came back a new horse.”

Breaking outside all but Jan. 27 Xtra Heat winner Roanan Goddess, Miss Harriett quickly established the lead and held it through splits of 23.46 and 47.44 seconds, pressed first by stakes winner Kissedbyanangel and then Determined Driver, the Timonium Juvenile runner-up that returned from five months away to win a Feb. 9 allowance at Laurel. The winning time was 1:26.14.

Miss Harriett drifted slightly but maintained her advantage through the stretch as Determined Driver made a late run to finish 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Roanan Goddess in third. It was 7 ¼ lengths back to late-starting Perfectly Wicked, trailed by Shamans Girl and Kissedbyanangel. Photo Finish was scratched.

The Wide Country continued Laurel’s 3-year-old filly stakes series that began with the Xtra Heat and follows with the one-mile Beyond the Wire March 23 and 1 1/16-mile Weber City Miss April 20, an automatic ‘Win and In’ qualifier for the 100th Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 17 at Pimlico.

Following her debut victory Miss Harriett set the pace before finishing fifth in the Smart Halo Nov. 11 at Laurel, also sprinting six furlongs, before going to the sidelines. She returned with a popular seven-length optional claiming allowance victory going 5 ½ furlongs Jan. 14.

“I think she’s all sprinter. I’ve trained the whole family. I think I’ve trained seven of them and they’re all sprinters. We’ll see. I’ll talk to the jock and see what he thinks,” McFarlane said. “It feels really good, but I’ve been there before. It’s tough. The game’s tough.”

Great read! Thanks @jonathanstettin Feels like you’re sitting across the table breaking down the day with the expert pastthewire.com/to-b-or-not-to…

Scott Raymond (@onehorsestable) View testimonials

Facebook