02/06/2004 12:00AM

Harmony Lodge has slim edge over Randaroo


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez along with Kiaran McLaughlin and Richard Migliore form two of the most potent trainer-jockey combinations in racing. But for one race Sunday, teammates will become rivals when they swap allegiances in Gulfstream Park's $100,000 Shirley Jones Handicap.

Pletcher will give Migliore a leg up aboard defending champion , for McLaughlin in the Grade 3 Shirley Jones. The seven-furlong dash attracted a field of eight fillies and mares that also includes Dedication, Mayo on the Side, Honeymooner, Kitty Knight, Halory Leigh, and Nannycam.

"I just hope Richie and Johnny don't come to the paddock and get on the wrong horse," McLaughlin said jokingly. "One thing I can guarantee - there won't be any bumping going on between those two if they get into a battle down the stretch. Neither rider will want to get his people mad at him."

Both Harmony Lodge and Randaroo come into the Shirley Jones on a roll, and each has a similar running style. If anything separates them, it would be Harmony Lodge's familiarity and fondness for the Gulfstream Park strip, where she has won three of four starts, all graded stakes, over the last two winters. She brings a three-race winning streak into the Shirley Jones, dating back to a nose decision over Shine Again in the Grade 1 Ballerina last summer at Saratoga. Migliore rode her to each of those victories.

"She's doing well, loves the track, and I'd expect her to run another big race on Sunday," said Pletcher, who trains Harmony Lodge for owners Laura and Eugene Melnyk. "Obviously both fillies like to be on or near the pace, so I'll let Richie just play it on the break."

McLaughlin will likewise leave all the strategy in the hands of Velazquez.

"My horse is doing well, seems to handle any racetrack without much problem, and the distance is perfect for her," said McLaughlin. "I'll just let Johnny ride his race. Obviously Harmony Lodge is the one to beat."

Randaroo improved steadily during the second half of her 3-year-old campaign. She reeled off three consecutive graded stakes victories at distances ranging from six furlongs to a mile during an eight-week span from Oct. 4 through Nov. 28. She then concluded the season by finishing a distant second behind Island Fashion in Santa Anita's Grade 1 La Brea Stakes.

Harmony Lodge will carry high weight of 121 pounds, three more than Randaroo.

Dedication will be making her main-track debut after 15 consecutive outings on turf. The Shirley Jones will be her first start since she finished third, beaten a neck by Heat Haze and a nose by Musical Chimes, in the Grade 1 Matriarch on Nov. 30.

Halory Leigh, who was off the board in a pair of Grade 1 races at Saratoga last summer, closed out her 3-year-old campaign with a pair of victories, including a stakes at Turfway Park, but shows only two recorded works since shipping to south Florida this winter.

Nannycam has won her last three starts but will be making her stakes debut on Sunday.