Given how often Zenyatta's name comes up, it can be hard to remember that John Shirreffs has other horses in his barn.
Harmonious might be a long way from achieving the stature of her stablemate, but in the short time the 3-year-old daughter of Dynaformer has been on the track, she has displayed the kind of ability that would make any trainer happy to have her.
Harmonious brings some admirable credentials herself to a deep eight-horse field for Saturday's $400,000 Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on the turf at Keeneland.
Owned by Pam, Marty and Emily Wygod, the late-blooming Harmonious didn't make her career debut until this April when she finished fifth in a 61/2-furlong maiden race at Hollywood Park.
Noting the pedigree and running style of Harmonious, Shirreffs figured that grass and added distance would be to the dark bay filly's liking and thus, made the decision to shift her to the turf the next time out.
There have been few disappointments for Harmonious in her four subsequent starts. She won the Grade I American Oaks in her fourth career outing and was second by half a length to likely QEII favorite Evening Jewel in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 21.
"It was immaturity and she had some small issues," Shirreffs said of Harmonious' late career start. "She's a Dynaformer, so there was no sense rushing her and her best opportunities would be on grass.
"She is a filly with a lot of talent. She's got a beautiful stride, she covers the ground very well."
Precocious as she is, Harmonious' inexperience still shows itself at times, most notably in her Del Mar Oaks loss.
In the stretch of that 11⁄8-mile race — the same distance she will run Saturday — Harmonious drifted sharply toward the outer rail, but still put in a gallant run to just miss despite her bobbing and weaving.
"Run straight," Shirreffs joked, when asked what it would take for his filly to get the better of Evening Jewel on Saturday.
Check the Label is yet another runner who comes into the race with momentum. She has a four-race win streak, all in graded stakes.
The daughter of Stormin Fever started the streak by taking the 1-mile Grade III Appalachian Stakes over the Keeneland turf on April 15. Her last win came by three-quarters of a length in the Grade I, 11⁄8-mile Garden City Stakes at Belmont.
"I had no idea she was that kind of filly before (the Appalachian)." said trainer Graham Motion, who won the 2003 QEII with Film Maker. "Certainly when we knew she was that kind of a filly, (the QE II) was the race we wanted to run in."
La Cloche doesn't have a graded stakes win, but the Ghostzapper filly has one solid piece of history in her favor.
La Cloche is campaigned by John Phillips, owner of Darby Dan Farm. In the six times Darby Dan has entered a horse in the QEII, it has won five times.
"The only time we were the favorite, we lost," Phillips said.