Larkin Armstrong's heavily-favored Harmonize rallied from the back of the pack and outdueled Sapphire Kitten in the stretch to win the $150,000 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine (G3) for 2-year-old fillies by a neck Oct. 7.
The victory secured Harmonize a spot in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) to be run at a mile here on Oct. 30.
Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Junior Alvarado, Harmonize covered the 1 1/16 miles on a firm turf course in 1:44.19. It was the third victory in the race for Mott, who also won with Stylelistick in 2001 and Bail Out Becky in the second division of the 1994 running.
Longshot Carleigh Belle opened a daylight advantage as she led the field of 14 through fractions of :22.44, :47.02 and 1:13.51. At the top of the stretch, things changed quickly as the field closed in with Sapphire Kitten moving five wide and Harmonize widest of all to hook up at the eighth pole on the front end.
The two rapidly pulled away from the pack with Harmonize narrowly prevailing at the wire.
A 2014 Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduate, Harmonize is a Kentucky-bred daughter of Scat Daddy out of the Sky Mesa mare Mesa Fresca. The victory was worth $90,000 and increased Harmonize's earnings to $166,600, with a record of 3-2-1-0.
Harmonize returned $4, $2.80 and $2.40. Sapphire Kitten, ridden by Julien Leparoux, returned $7.20 and $5.60 with Outsider Art finishing 4½ lengths back in third under Drayden Van Dyke and paying $7 to show.
It was three-quarters of a length back to Lilly's Dream in fourth. She was followed in order by Family Tree, Inconclusive, Clare View, Moms Choice, Theory of Change, Delicate Lady, Precious Love, Come to Mischief, Tia Flor and Carleigh Belle.
Quotes courtesy Keeneland:
Bill Mott (winning trainer of Harmonize)
On whether Harmonize is good enough to advance to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf-
“I think so. It's nice to see that she's versatile enough to come from back in the pack like she did. She struggled with ground early and once she got down the backside, she got a little better, a little better. When (jockey Junior Alvarado) turned for home, she turned on the after-burners and was good enough to run them down.
“I thought we could be laying third or fourth in the race. There looked like there were two obvious speed horses. I thought we would be laying right behind them. It didn't work out that way, but I'm glad the filly took care of it.”
Junior Alvarado (winning rider)
On whether he intended to have her so far off the pace-
“Not really. She wasn't getting hold of the track the first part of the race. I didn't want to get after her too early; I wanted to let her get comfortable and let her pick up ground. By the end, she was much the best.”
Joe Sharp (trainer of runner-up Sapphire Kitten)
“We were really pleased with the race. It was her first time around two turns and the winner had already been around two turns. We were impressed with the way our filly was passed at the eighth pole and battled back inside. Hopefully, that was enough to get us in the Breeders' Cup because I think we have a legitimate contender. She definitely moved forward today.”
Julien Leparoux (rider of Sapphire Kitten)
“We had a good trip. The winner is a very nice filly. My filly ran a huge race and fought back at the end. She's a very nice filly too. (This race was her) first time around two turns today so she should get a lot out of this race for sure.”
Drayden Van Dyke (rider of third-place finisher Outsider Art)
“We were out in the 14 hole. She kind of sucked back at the break. I was going to try to get her in a good spot. But they went fast anyway so it worked out good. I would've liked to have covered her up more and saved a little more ground. She showed a good effort going against these horses. I'm very happy with our finish.”
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