Miss Harriett looks to double up in Smart Halo
A month after registering one of the biggest upsets in Maryland Million history, which also happened to be her career debut, Narrow Leaf Farm homebred Miss Harriett goes after her second straight win in Saturday’s $100,000 Smart Halo.
Based at historic Pimlico Race Course with trainer Brandon McFarlane, Miss Harriett had posted five timed breezes, none longer than four furlongs, leading up to the Maryland Million Lassie Oct. 14 at Laurel, where she returned $126.60 as the second-longest shot in a field of 13 at 62-1. Port Louis ($137) in the 2019 Starter Handicap is the largest Maryland Million win payout.
“She’s always shown talent, 100 percent,” McFarlane said. “I work slow and I never set her down once, so we really didn’t know what she was.
“I didn’t have a big foundation under her. She only had about four halves, never worked her five-eighths, never really got into her that much,” he added. “These are horses that had run three, four, five times, so they were fit.”
Breaking from Post 12, Miss Harriett was hustled near the front by jockey Jean Briceno before taking over the top spot after a half-mile. She took a 1 ½-length lead into the stretch and kept favored Sheilahs Warcloud at bay down the lane to win by a neck. Briceno returns to ride from Post 7 in a field of 10.
“She’s never been super quick out of the gate so I told the jock to try to get her to settle and then make one run,” McFarlane said. “He kind of hustled her out a little more than I expected, so when she was sitting second I was afraid she was going to get tired on me. But she dug in. I was surprised, but I wasn’t surprised.
“She came out of the race real good and she’s done everything right,” he added. “There were was two options, either this or an allowance on the 19th. But this is the right distance and she hasn’t any setbacks, so we said we might as well give her a shot.”
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Miss Harriett is a half-sister to Keep Momma Happy, winner of the 2012 Maryland Million Nursery in his debut, also bred and owned by David Baxter. Keep Momma Happy drew outermost Post 14, was sent off at 23-1 and came with a seven-wide run to win by a neck.
“My owner kind of had that in his mind, too,” McFarlane said. “It was a little bit like, ‘I’ve done this before and we won,’ so that was another reason why we went in there.”
McFarlane won the 2018 Skidmore at Saratoga with Laurel maiden winner Chattel, who suffered a catastrophic injury after clipping heels in her next start, the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint. The Lassie was his first Maryland Million victory.
“That was the first time I had ever been to the Maryland Million. I [usually] don’t go because I’d never had a horse to run that day, but it was pretty cool,” he said. “[Miss Harriett] can only get better off that last race. I expect her to run well. After that first race, she showed she can compete with these horses. We’ll know more after this one.”
Other stakes winners in the Smart Halo are Low Mileage and Princess Indy. Bird and Grady’s Low Mileage returns to dirt after two grass starts, winning the 5 ½-furlong Jamestown Sept. 2 at Colonial Downs and running fifth in the 1 1/16-mile Selima Sept. 30 at Laurel. The bay daughter of Mineshaft won a 4 ½-furlong maiden special weight in debut May 5 at Laurel and was second facing the boys in a July 14 optional claimer behind Give It a Whirl, who is entered in the James Lewis.