06/21/2013 3:49PM

Emerald Downs: Harwood looks to little brothers to succeed departing star Noosa Beach


AUBURN, Wash. – Doris Harwood doesn’t need to be reminded that when one door closes, another opens wide. A week ago, Harwood and her husband, Jeff, made the difficult decision to retire their homebred stable star Noosa Beach after he suffered a setback in training. A week later, Harwood will saddle Noosa Beach’s full brother Music of My Soul to compete Sunday in the $50,000 Coca-Cola Handicap at Emerald Downs.

And later this summer, perhaps in late July, Harwood will send out 2-year-old Noosito, himself a full brother to Noosa Beach, a two-time Washington horse of the year who won a record 11 stakes races at Emerald Downs. Noosa Beach and his regular rider, Ricky Frazier, will be honored in retirement ceremonies at Emerald on July 3, and then Harwood will hand the baton to Music of My Soul.

Music of My Soul is cut from the same cloth as his older brother, though as with the Mannings and Hasselbecks of the sporting world, they are not one and the same. Fortunately for Harwood, who trains Music of My Soul for Ken Alhadeff of Seattle, there are more similarities than differences.

“They’re both smart horses, they’re both athletic,” Harwood said. “Music of My Soul won’t get as tall as Noosa, I think, but they both have tremendous heart girths, which allows them to run any distance, and they have powerful hips. Music of My Soul is still growing. It’s exciting, because we’ve got little brother next in line.”

Music of My Soul will face a formidable group in the Coca-Cola. Carving captured the $100,000 Real Quiet Stakes around two turns at Betfair Hollywood Park in November; Worldventurer won two stakes races in Texas this past winter; and Finallygotabentley, by Bernardini, is coming off a victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Auburn Handicap on June 2, a race Music of My Soul was forced to miss after he acted up in the starting gate and was scratched. No harm was done, Harwood said.

“He just tapped the gate with his front feet, and they were being cautious with a really good horse,’’ Harwood said of the gate crew and the presiding veterinarian. “They made a good decision. They didn’t know if he was hurt and, fortunately, he was not. We’ve been back to the gate. He’s all calmed down. Nothing happened to the horse. He’s absolutely fine, so we fight another day.”

In his previous start in early May, Music of My Soul finished second behind Carving in an allowance race, a strong effort in his first outing following the traditional Emerald winter vacation.

“I was very pleased, even though he ran second,” Harwood said. “The track was deep and tiring that day. It supported Carving’s effort because he had come off some longer races. But Music of My Soul came back fit, and we know he can run farther. The good thing about Harbor the Golds is they don’t need a dry track. If he follows in the footsteps of Noosa Beach and some of the other Harbors I’ve had, the track doesn’t make much of a difference. We’ll see what we get on Sunday.”

Harwood likes Music of My Soul’s chances on Sunday. In his only other start at one mile, he won the Gottstein Futurity, the Northwest’s traditional 2-year-old championship, besting Finallygotabentley in a spirited stretch duel.

“It’s the same 3-year-olds that are here,” Harwood said of the Coca-Cola field. “I don’t think there’s anybody scary. We definitely fit in there. I’m not overconfident, but I know I’m bringing over a good horse.”

For Noosa Beach, meanwhile, it’s on to a life of luxury at the Harwoods’ farm not far from Emerald Downs. He earned $524,472 while winning 14 of 22 starts, none bigger than his resounding victory in the 2010 Longacres Mile.

“What he did was almost unbelievable,” Harwood said. “To have a horse that has set almost every record at Emerald Downs, for us, being such small breeders, was such a thrill. There isn’t really a way to describe it, except that he was the horse of a lifetime. We love him, we respect him, and that’s why we retired him. He sprained an ankle. He’s sound, but it’s one of those injuries that will recur. We want to honor him, and it’s a really good time to end his career.

“But, wow, what a horse he’s been for us.”

Harwood has some other scorpions in the barn besides Music of My Soul to help ease the blow. A pair of 2-year-old fillies, one by War Pass and one by Curlin, have her particularly excited for the future. She also has high hopes for Noosito, who is owned by a group of Harwood’s longtime clients. If he’s anything like his older siblings – and Harwood says he is – then Noosito could be a real runner.

“I’m really pleased with his training,” Harwood said. “Music was little bit slow to pick up the idea that ‘Oh, we’re supposed to be going fast.’ I told Mr. Alhadeff he wouldn’t win the first time out, and he didn’t. But Noosito is more like Noosa Beach. He’s having fun, he’s got a hold of the bridle. He thinks he’s supposed to go fast. He’s deceiving, too. He’s big for a 2-year-old. He’s just starting his breezing program, and like the other two, he’s a very sound horse.

“For me, to have all three brothers, and when I look at Noosito, it’s just a thrill. I think I’ve got another good one.”