Updated on 09/17/2011 9:43AM

Harmony Lodge rallies to win Gulf's First Lady

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Harmony Lodge ($15.60) proves she is not a one-trick pony as she coasts to the wire a 1 3/4-length come-from-behind winner of Sunday's $100,000 First Lady Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Harmony Lodge proved she was not just a one dimensional speed horse when rallying from off the pace to a 1 3/4-length victory over Fly Me Crazy in Sunday's $100,000 First Lady Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Forest Heiress, the 4-5 favorite, finished a tiring fifth in a field of seven fillies and mares.

Harmony Lodge, who forced or set the pace in each of her four previous victories, rated off an early speed duel between Forest Heiress and longshots Haunted Lass and Interest Only in the Grade 3 First Lady. She rallied three wide to gain control in early stretch, shook clear near the sixteenth pole and easily held safe the final surge of Fly Me Crazy. The latter broke slow, trailed badly in the run down the backstretch then finished best of all to easily be second best, 1 3/4 lengths before the tiring Haunted Lass.

Forest Heiress, who was defeated as the 1-5 favorite in the Old Hat Stakes here last winter, relinquished her short advantage approaching the quarter pole and weakened badly through the final furlong.

Harmony Lodge covered six furlongs in 1:10.31 seconds under jockey John Velazquez and paid $15.60. A daughter of Hennessy, Harmony Lodge is trained by Todd Pletcher for owners Laura & Eugene Melnyk.

"She grabbed herself a little bit leaving the gate and and came away a step slow which might have been a blessing in disguise," said Pletcher. "We were fortunate to have the outside post because it gave us some options and if we were going to get her to settle off the pace today was the day with all the speed in this race."