03/26/2011 2:15PM

Parx stakes lures Harissa, Fritchie winner


After watching Harissa win last month’s Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap at Laurel Park, New York-based trainer Mike Hushion indicated that the 4-year-old filly would probably return to her regular routine of racing in two-turn routes.

But when a soft spot with a $75,000 purse showed up at Parx Racing, Hushion apparently changed his mind. Harissa looks like a standout against six other fillies and mares in Tuesday’s 6 1/2-furlong Langhorne Stakes, the featured ninth race on a 10-race card.

Owned by John Waken’s GEM Racing Inc., which also campaigns the multiple stakes-winning sprinter Nicole H., Harissa figured to avoid her stablemate by focusing on two-turn races, where she has collected three ungraded stakes victories in her 13-race career, including the mile-and-70-yard Sleigh Ride in her only previous appearance at Parx in January.

Instead, Harissa will be shortening in distance again after taking the seven-furlong Fritchie by 2 1/4 lengths while earning a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure. In fact,she hasn’t run less than a 92 Beyer since finishing fourth with an 86 Beyer in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan last May.

In contrast, the best number any of her Langhorne opponents has earned within their last three starts is an 88. That number belongs to the much-improved Magical Feeling.

The 5-year-old Magical Feeling lost the first five races of her career for trainer Marco Salazar in Kentucky and Bill Mott in New York before she was transferred to Allen Iwinski last fall. Dropped to almost the bottom level at Parx, Magical Feeling crushed $12,500 maiden claimers in her first start for Iwinski last Sept. 14. She has gone on to win 6 of 7 starts locally, including a second-level allowance at the same distance as Tuesday’s race last time out.

The 6-year-old Jemilyn has recorded five of her six lifetime wins and all five of her runner-up finishes at Parx. Trained by Ramon Preciado, Jemilyn was a two-time stakes winner against Pennsylvania-bred company last season, taking the seven-furlong Foxy J G and the $150,000 PHBA Distaff going 1 1/16 miles.

Although she has been idle since finishing fifth behind Harissa in the Jan. 4 Sleigh Ride, Jemilyn has prepped nicely for her comeback with three solid workouts of between four and five furlongs since March 5, including a best-of-21 five-eighths breeze in 1:01.