01/01/2011 6:52PM

Spring Style noses out heavy favorite Harmonious in Robert Frankel

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BENOIT PHOTO
Spring Style (right), under Garrett Gomez, barely holds off Harmonious to win the Robert Frankel.

Garrett Gomez celebrated his 39th birthday in style on Saturday by guiding Spring Style to an upset victory over heavily favored Harmonious in the Grade 2, $147,000 Robert Frankel Stakes at Santa Anita.

 Spring Style ($15.80), the third choice in a field of four, sat second during the early going while tracking the dawdling pace of Powerofvoodoo, took the lead entering the stretch, then bravely held off Harmonious in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by a nose. Go Forth North was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third. Powerofvoodoo faded to last. Eclaire de Lune was scratched.

Spring Style was timed in 1:15.08 for 1 1/8 miles on firm turf. She benefited by being closer to the early pace. Harmonious, meanwhile, was caught three paths wide while trying to close into fractions of 25.48 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 51.31 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:16.05 for six furlongs.

“We went so slow,” said Gomez, who said he was told by trainer Ben Cecil to “avoid the lead at all costs.”

“The last three-eighths of a mile we picked it up and came home really solid,” Gomez said.

Harmonious, the 1-5 favorite, was making her first start since the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.  As the 123-pound highweight, she also was giving five pounds to Spring Style.

“They went too slow,” said Joel Rosario, the rider of Harmonious. “I wish I could have been a little closer, but there was no pace.”

Spring Style, 6, was winning for the fifth time in 16 starts. She won a money-allowance race at Hollywood Park in her prior start, but the Frankel marked her first stakes victory.

Cecil trains Spring Style for his wife, Kristy, and Zillah Reddam, the wife of prominent owner Paul Reddam.