With a New Zealand record next to her name already, after just five race starts - there’s a fair bit of scope around Barry Ward’s latest find, Angel Of Harlem.
Ward is well-known for the exploits of his fillies and mares on the racetrack. A breeder/owner/trainer, and not too far back a member of Canterbury Breeder’s committee, no-one could ever accuse Barry of lacking passion or effort.
The well-bred filly broke through for her first victory at Timaru on Sunday in emphatic fashion, bettering a four-year long record held by Red Hot Toddy for a two-year-old filly in a 2000 metre mobile with a time of 2.26.1.
The result may have come as a surprise to many, with a $19 tote price a fair reflection of that assumption, but Ward has known for a while now that he’s got a good one on his hands.
“I’ve liked her from day one,” he said.
“She’s right up there with any of the fillies I have trained I think, but she’s nowhere near being the full package. There’s still a lot of learning to be done and she can only get better.”
The first foal from Ward’s six-win mare, Paradise City (Mach Three) Angel Of Harlem had raced with distinction in behind Elle Mac, Lady Chatto, Miss Ethel Sunshine and Star Commander in her four starts prior to Sunday, so she was facing a noticeable drop in class when she rocked up at Phar Lap Raceway.
But always the optimist, Ward was confident, without being too over the top.
“I said to Matty that she could run a fair bit and that she had a pretty big future in front of her.
“He felt she needed to be put into the race and he said when he asked her to go she hit the front and then went to pull up so he pulled the plugs and she came away again.
“That’s the learning thing I was talking about, it’s hard because I work her on her own at home. She only gets that real experience about being a racehorse when I take her off the place.”
Sunday’s win elevated Angel Of Harlem into the top 12 for the 2YO Diamond division at the Harness Jewels in Ashburton next month and all going well, provided she stays inside the field, she’ll be there to chase the big money.
“Those races don’t come along very often, so we will be there for sure.
“Hopefully she won’t get overtaken this week and we can have a crack.”
Ward has a full-brother to Angel Of Harlem at home who he is lining up for the Yearling Sales next year and he hopes the deeds of her sister will have a few potential buyers more than interested.
“He’s a really nice type too, so hopefully her success will help him when he goes in the ring.”
The filly is one of four horses Ward is working from his home base with his other racehorse, Bird Of Paradise in good form currently.
“She’s going good. I thought her run at Timaru was a cracker too. She just doesn’t like Addington for some reason.”
Angel Of Harlem wasn’t the only horse to push into a Jewels spot at Sunday’s meeting with Queen Bee Bardon’s second placing seeing her creep into the mix for the 4YO Diamond.
Late in the day McLovin further enhanced his chances for the 4YO Ruby with an impressive win for Amber Lethaby after sitting parked.