Tar Heel Mom Wins Harmony Lodge, Solis Wins Four

Tar Heel Mom Wins Harmony Lodge, Solis Wins Four


By Ed Gray

 HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Tar Heel Mom asserted her class over four rivals Sunday to score her second stakes triumph of the Gulfstream Park meeting with a 3 ½-length decision in the $75,000 Harmony Lodge.

The 6-year-old daughter of Flatter, who defeated Hilda’s Passion in the Sugar Swirl (G3) on Jan. 15, was coming off a fourth-place finish behind that Todd Pletcher-trained star in the Hurricane Bertie (G3) on Feb. 13.

“She bled a little bit in her last start, so we had to give her some time. I considered shipping her to New York for the Distaff run yesterday (at Aqueduct), but this race came up and we decided to stay,” trainer Stanley Hough said. “The sloppy track wasn’t a concern. She’s very honest and handled everything. Now we’ll take her to New York and see what comes up next.”

Bella Moneta broke alertly under Luis Saez to take a slim lead over Hough’s 3-5 favorite, who raised along the rail throught the backstretch and on the turn. Leaving the turn into the homestretch, Alex Solis asked Tar Heel Mom for her run, and the Kentucky-bred mare responded while drawing away through the stretch to give her jockey his fourth winner of the day.

“She was very game.  She broke sharp and settled nicely right inside of the other speed filly,” Solis said. “I honestly didn’t know that much about her coming into the race and just went out there and let her do her thing.  Four wins in a day feels pretty nice. It’s been a really good meet for me.”

Tar Heel Mom ran six furlongs in 1:09 4/5 while recording her ninth career victory and fifth victory on a wet track. Hour Glass, the 3-1 second choice ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, closed to finish second, 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Bronx City Girl and jockey Fernando Jara. Bella Moneta faded to fifth.

Ward’s Success with 2-year-olds Continues

Trainer Wesley Ward saddled Firefall for a 2 ½-length victory in the second race, the first for 2-year-olds on the meeting. Ward’s homebred gelding, coupled in an even-money entry with Sweet Moonbeam, stumbled at the start of the 2½-furlong dash before quickly sprinting to a clear lead on his way to victory under Jesus Rios. Patrick Biancone-trained Bellavini closed some ground to finish second, a half-length ahead of Sweet Moonbeam.

Firefall, a Florida-bred son of Bring the Heat, ran the 2 ½ furlongs through the stretch in 28 1/5 seconds.

Ward, who has enjoyed much early-season success with juvenile runners in recent years, is hopeful that Firefall will become a stakes winner.

“We’re looking abroad for all our 2-year-olds that run well,” the Washington state native said.

The former Eclipse Award-winning jockey became the first U.S. trainer to saddle a winner at the Royal Ascot meeting in England in 2009, when he saddled  Strike the Tiger for a victory in the Windsor Castle Stakes a few days before visiting the winner’s circle after the Queen Mary (G2) with Jealous Again.

Well-traveled Owner Visits Winner’s Circle

Johnathan Miller went to great lengths to be on hand to watch Southafrican Queen run in the fourth race at Gulfstream Park Sunday afternoon. The Virginia resident, who was on a business trip to South Africa, wasn’t dissuaded from making the trip to South Florida even after learning Friday that his travel arrangements were mixed up at the Botswana airport.

Intent on watching his 5-year-old mare run, Miller flew to Brazil, where he had a six-hour layover before catching a flight to South Florida. In the meantime, trainer Phil Gleaves notified him that the weather forecast for rain could wash the $35,000 claiming maiden race off the turf, but Miller would not be deterred and finally arrived in town at 4 a.m. Sunday.

Southafrican Queen, whom he bred and owns in partnership with his wife, Elizabeth Thompson and friend Steve Nelson, made his trip well worthwhile. The daughter of Horse Chestnut closed from off the pace to break her maiden by 1 ½ lengths under jockey Alex Solis.

After the winner’s circle celebration, Miller, the former president of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, hopped on a home-bound plane to Virginia.

So close, yet to far

A bettor who prefers to remain anonymous came within a nose of winning more than $1 million Thursday with a $1.60 Rainbow 6 ticket that singled No. 11, Fly Bye Wildcat, in the sixth and final leg of the wager with a 10-cent minimum.

Fly Bye Wildcat, a 12-1 long shot, led throughout the mile turf race before favored Four Flies nipped him at the wire by a nose. The unidentified bettor would have been the only winning ticket-holder had Fly Bye Wildcat held on to win and thus be eligible to win the $1 million-plus jackpot.

A $1,311,712 carryover for the Rainbow 6 will be up for grabs when live racing resumes on Thursday. Gulfstream Park management announced last week that the entire Rainbow 6 pool will be dispersed on Saturday, April 23, should the jackpot go unclaimed before then.