04/15/2011 3:17PM

Gulfstream: Tar Heel Mom gets class relief in Harmony Lodge

Bill Denver/Equiphotos
Tar Heel Mom, a multple graded stakes winner, brings a class edge into the Harmony Lodge.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Tar Heel Mom, a mainstay atop the filly and mare sprint division here at Gulfstream Park for the last two winters, will find the competition a lot less imposing when she closes out another successful Florida campaign as the horse to beat in Sunday’s $75,000 Harmony Lodge overnight stakes.

Tar Heel Mom finished second in both the Grade 2 Inside Information and Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie and was a narrowly beaten third in the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl here a year ago. She returned this past winter to upset division leader Hilda’s Passion in the Sugar Swirl before finishing a tiring and well- beaten fourth behind that same rival in the Hurricane Bertie.

Tar Heel Mom, a 6-year-old daughter of Flatter trained by Stanley Hough, was a Grade 2 winner last season when she captured the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap over a muddy strip at Aqueduct. She is certainly well suited to the distance of the Harmony Lodge, having posted four of her eight career wins at six furlongs.

About the only drawback for Hough and owner Alex Rankin when sending out Tar Heel Mom as the favorite on Sunday is the fact as a Kentucky bred, she is eligible for only $52,000 of the $75,000 purse, the remainder of which is funded by the Florida Owners Association and earmarked only for Florida-breds.

Tar Heel Mom will break from the rail and faces six rivals, only two of whom, Gorgeous Melody and Bella Moneta, are Florida-breds. The remainder of the field consists of Erin Rose, Bronx City Girl, D’wild Ride, and Hour Glass.

The Harmony Lodge will be the rubber match between Tar Heel Mom and Hour Glass, who split a pair of decisions last spring in New York.

Tar Heel Mom came out 2 1/2 lengths the best in the Distaff. Hour Glass then turned the tables by returning to win the Grade 2 Vagrancy at Belmont Park six weeks later.

Hour Glass has not started since finishing fifth behind Secret Gypsy in Delaware Park’s Grade 3 Endine on Sept.11. She has been working regularly for trainer Todd Pletcher at Palm Meadows since early March.

Erin Rose is a lightly raced but promising filly trained by Christophe Clement. Erin Rose looked like she could be any kind after winning her maiden by nearly 11 lengths last summer at Monmouth Park only to catch sloppy tracks and finish second as the odds-on favorite in two subsequent tries to close out her 3-year-old campaign. Clement gave her several months off before bringing her back to win an entry-level optional claimer by two lengths here last month, a performance that earned her an opportunity to try stakes opposition for the first time in the Harmony Lodge.