Nothing that trainer Bill Mott saw for much of Wednesday's Grade III, JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes was remotely close to the game plan he envisioned for his filly Harmonize.
She had been right up on the front in her first two starts but was stuck in 12th as the 14-horse field made its way down the backstretch of the 11⁄16-mile turf race
Talent can often make up for some less than desirable circumstances, and Harmonize utimately showed plenty of talent. The 2-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy made a big rally off the final turn and wore down Sapphire Kitten in the deep stretch to take the Jessamine Stakes by a neck, probably cementing a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland on Oct. 30.
Sent off as the even-money favorite, Harmonize was coming in off a four-length win in the P.G. Johnson Stakes over the Saratoga turf Sept. 3 and was beaten just a nose in her career debut going 11⁄16 miles on Aug. 9.
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The anxious moments that arose as she raced unhurried near the back through fractions of :22.44 and :47.02 turned to nervous energy of the enjoyable kind when she swung out extremely wide under jockey Junior Alvarado and used that sweeping move to mow down a game Sapphire Kitten.
"Usually she's pretty quick out of the gate and I thought she'd probably be laying third or fourth," Mott said. "I thought she'd be stalking ... but I was real surprised to see her as far back as she was. When (Alvarado) turned for home, she turned on the after-burners and was good enough to run them down."
Outsider Art came up for third as Harmonize hit the wire in 1:44.19 over a course rated firm.
Owned by Larkin Armstrong, Harmonize ran a bit green in her career debut when she ducked from the whip late. But since then she has matured.
"She has come a long way, particularly to be able to transform her running style into what she did today," Mott said.