08/04/2011 4:09PM

Emerald Downs: Royal Moses has talent to contend in Angie C


AUBURN, Wash. – Exclusive Diva, a fast horse with fancy bloodlines, figures to be a strong favorite Sunday in the $50,000 Angie C Stakes at Emerald Downs. The daughter of Bernardini won her debut with ease last month and would seem to have a stakes victory or two in her immediate future. But she’ll have to contend with the less-heralded, but perhaps no-less talented, Royal Moses in the meeting’s first open stakes race for 2-year-old fillies.

Tim Harder, who trains Royal Moses, has never saddled a stakes winner at Emerald Downs. But to hear Harder tell it, he’s rarely had a horse with this much potential. Instead of a maiden race for her career bow, Harder chose the restricted Knights Choice Stakes on July 4, and Royal Moses responded with a powerful effort, rallying four wide on the turn to miss by a neck. Harder was pleased – to a point.

“I was really frustrated at first, because I thought we led the best horse over there and didn’t get the win picture,” he said. “But after thinking about it, it was a real good effort for a first-time starter. We were real proud of her.”

Royal Moses will have a new rider Sunday, Leslie Mawing stepping in for Jose Zunino, and an additional half-furlong to accommodate her finishing kick. Mawing worked Royal Moses last Sunday (five furlongs in a best-of-the-morning 59.60 seconds) and it’s all systems go for the Angie C. Royal Moses will break from the outside post in a six-horse field.

“We’re thrilled to be in it,” Harder said. “We’ve been planning for it since that last start and we’re pretty excited. The filly’s doing good. We’re a little worried about [Exclusive Diva]. … it should be a good test.”

Harder, 47, has been training for the better part of two decades. His big horse was Mocha Express, a near-millionaire who finished second in the 1998 Longacres Mile. Harder’s family has been along for the ride – his brother, Craig, bred Royal Moses, using a mare he got from their mother. Craig Harder and his wife, Cynthia, own half of Royal Moses, and Rusty Warwick, a longtime Harder client, owns the other half. With Royal Moses, they may be onto something good.

“We’ll have to see if she can show consistency and longevity,” Harder said. “We have to keep in mind that she’s just a 2-year-old. There’s no master plan right now. It’s pretty much one race at a time.”