Under a ground-saving trip with Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the irons, Larkin Armstrong's Harmonize was able to get up in the final jumps to win the Grade 3, $200,000 Glen Falls on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Breaking from post 8 as the 7-2 second choice, Harmonize settled toward the rear of the pack from the field of nine as Grateful went out in front, setting tepid fractions of 25.53 seconds for the opening quarter-mile with the half in 51.13. Moving up to third position and three-wide behind Grateful and Estrechada as the mile went in 1:40.57.
Turning for home, Grateful remained in front as Harmonize was tipped out to the three-path, moving past Estrechada and engaging the leader in the late stretch. In a back-and-forth battle to the finish, Harmonize was able to get the last bob at the wire to secure the victory by a neck.
He completed the 1 3/8-mile distance on a firm inner turf course in 2:15.69.
“I was happy with where I was,” said Velazquez who earned his fourth win of the day. “I tried to get her in front a little too soon [but] she waited, so it was a little tricky ride. When I got her to pass, he [Manny Franco, aboard Grateful, No. 5] bumped me, so we were riding side by side, with him on the inside, but it all worked out in the end.”
Returning $9.40 for a $2 win wager and picking up her first victory since August of last year when she captured the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, the Scat Daddy filly boosted her career earnings to $827,860.
“She's been lacking a little closing turn-of-foot; we just thought she's been grinding a little bit more than she has in the past,” said winning Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. “I started her at a mile and she closed but not with enough energy, I guess. Lady Eli outclassed her in the [Grade 1] Diana and we had an option to go to California but I thought let's try the mile and three[-eighths] and we'll get firm ground. We stayed at home and it worked out for her.”
“She had a wide trip. I was hoping we'd be laying second in the two-path and instead we were about fifth in the three-path,” he added. “I wasn't liking our position. You hate to be three turns and be three-wide. Everybody in the race probably ran less ground than she did. I'm glad she wasn't three-and-a-half wide or she wouldn't have won by that nose.”
Added Todd Pletcher, trainer of second-place finisher Grateful “The horse ran very well. We got the trip we were hoping for. We just lost a tough head bob.”
Following War Flag in third was Estrechada, Lottie, Summersault, Sweet Sandy and Happyness completing the order of finish.
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