BY BROCK SHERIDAN
HALLENDALE BEACH, FL—Averill Racing LLC and Two Eight Racing LLC’s R Harper Rose lived up to her 3-10 odds with a thoroughly dominating performance in the $200,000 Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association Florida Sire Stakes Susan’s Girl at Gulfstream Park Saturday.
The striking daughter of Journeyman Stud’s leading Florida sire Khozan won the seven-furlong Susan’s Girl by four lengths with jockey Edgard Zayas aboard against eight other 2-year-old fillies by accredited Florida sires in the second leg of the filly division of the three-race series.
Fields of Green, the longest shot in the race at 69-1, and jockey Jose Morelos tried to apply pressure early in the Susan’s Girl, taking a half-length lead to the inside of R Harper Rose down the backstretch while finishing the quarter-mile in :22.72. But R Harper Rose shook off that challenge under a motionless Zayas heading into the far turn and was two lengths clear with five-sixteenths of a mile to run.
Fields of Green and 9-2 second choice Honey Dijon, a nearly six-length maiden special weight winner at Saratoga Race Course in August, tried to make a run a R Harper Rose coming out of the turn but Zayas gave R Harper Rose a shake of the reins and they extended their lead with little effort in the run for home.
R Harper Rose galloped under the wire to finish in 1:25.35 on the fast track with Honey Dijon second. Fields of Green was four lengths farther back in third followed in order by Haunted, Reina Mar, Unrelentless, Bucchera, Jazzin and Mist.
Dancing N Dixie, Kitty’s Pretty and $100,000 Florida Sire Stakes Desert Vixen-winner Welcome Back were scratched.
Desert Vixen paid $2.60 to win as the shortest-priced winner of the Susan’s Girl since Scandalous Act won at the same odds in 2013 edition. Scandalous Act was the last filly to sweep the prestigious series.
“I think she was the class of the field,” Zayas said of R Harper Rose. “Last time she acted up a little bit behind the gate and today she did it a little bit, but she was way better. She’s still learning, still green, still a baby, but she has a lot of speed and she could be a really nice filly—at least going up to seven furlongs.”
With the victory, Zayas extended his streak of riding at least one winner on the last 19 cards that he has ridden at Gulfstream.
R Harper Rose remains undefeated in three starts including a five-and-three-quarters-length victory against a field of non-winners of two, $75,000 optional claiming fillies going five-and-a-half furlongs at Gulfstream on Sept. 22. She broke her maiden by six-and-a-quarter lengths over a muddy five-and-a-half furlongs on Aug. 5 and was a late scratch as the morning line in the Desert Vixen.
“Seven-eighths is always the trickiest distance,” trainer Saffie Joseph said. “To go from two five-and-a-half [furlong] races to seven-eighth is more testing than even a one-turn mile. To see her get through that was good.
“She is obviously the class of the series. At this point, I don’t think we’ll do anything creative. I think we’ll keep her in the Florida Sire Stakes. But we’ll talk it over with the owners.
“The [Florida Sire Stakes] series is a good series and we look forward to it every year and it remains the main goal for her. I think she will go on to become a top quality horse.”
Jayson Werth – Adam Coglianese Photo
Co-owner and former major league outfielder Jayson Werth compared winning with R Harper Rose to his success in baseball.
“When you see those horses coming down the stretch and you own one of those horses, you get the same feeling you get with playoff baseball. I tell people the reason I got into [owning] horses is that I can’t replicate what my profession [baseball career] gave me. You don’t get those feelings anywhere else. So horse racing kinda fills that void for me.”
R Harper Rose earned $120,000, pushing her career bankroll to $197,300. She is out of True Bliss, by Yes It’s True and was bred in Florida by Sally J. Andersen at her River Mist Farm in Ocala. True Bliss has produced seven foals, six starters with four winners and R Harper Rose is her only black-type performer. True Bliss has a weanling filly by Leinster.
R Harper Rose is a two-time graduate of Ocala Breeders’ Sales having first sold for $16,000 to Pro Racing Stable out of the Kaizen Sales consignment at the 2022 October Yealing Sale. GOP Racing Stable then consigned her to this year’s OBS March Sale where Averill Racing purchased her for $60,000.
Return to Oct. 21 issue of Wire to Wire