10/29/2010 5:41PM

Harmonious becoming a star in her own right

Benoit & Associates
Harmonious, Martin Garcia up, wins the American Oaks.

She's a good-sized dark bay filly with a long stride and a big kick who is based in California and trained by John Shirreffs. Wins a lot. Maybe you've heard of her?
No, no, not that horse. This is Harmonious. And while Harmonious has failed to achieve Zenyatta-like perfection, she has come pretty darn close six starts into her career.

Fifth in her debut, a synthetic-surface sprint race in April, Harmonious has since won 4 of 5 turf races, finishing a troubled second in her lone grass loss, when top-class Evening Jewel beat her a half-length in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. Harmonious wasted little time turning the tables on Evening Jewel, finishing almost five lengths in front of her while winning the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup by more than four lengths on Oct. 16 at Keeneland. That performance landed Harmonious a slot in the $2 million BC Filly and Mare Turf, where she must face the likes of defending champion Midday.

Suffice it to say Harmonious will be overshadowed Breeders' Cup weekend by her undefeated stablemate. But if Harmonious, bred and owned by the Wygod family, continues her rapid rate of development, she will be ready for center stage in the not-too-distant future.

"She's sort of a rawboned Dynaformer," Shirreffs said Friday morning, referring to Harmonious' sire. "I think she's 16 [hands] 1, but she's got all the good qualities that you like to see out of a Dynaformer: A big shoulder, a great stride, and that nice strong neck."

Despite her lofty win record and a victory in the Grade 1 American Oaks to go with her QE II score, Harmonious still can improve. Shirreffs believes she would have won the Del Mar Oaks had not Harmonious drifted out through the stretch, and in the QE II the filly ducked in after making the lead, then swerved to the outside in deep stretch.

"I think that's her reacting to the surroundings," said Shirreffs.

Shirreffs surroundings will be something of a blur in coming days. He flew Thursday night from California to Kentucky to oversee Harmonious' easy five-furlong Polytrack breeze Friday morning at Keeneland, and after returning home Friday afternoon, Shirreffs will be back aboard another plane Tuesday, when Zenyatta heads to Churchill Downs.