June 8, 2023

American Pharoah filly Harvey’s Lil Goil dominates Busanda

Harvey's Lil Goil emerged as a Kentucky Oaks contender with her Busanda romp (NYRA/Coglianese Photos/Elsa Lorieul)

As the runaway winner of Sunday’s $101,000 Busanda at Aqueduct, Harvey’s Lil Goil burst onto the scene as a Kentucky Oaks (G1) contender for her champion freshman sire American Pharoah.

The Bill Mott pupil was hardly a secret, bet down to 3-4 favoritism off a six-length maiden conquest here Dec. 12. Even so, her authoritative display – despite a wide trip throughout the 1 1/8-mile test –suggested that these 10 Oaks points are just an opening deposit.

Harvey’s Lil Goil was a bit awkward into stride, and a beat slow. Other that minor miscue, the well-bred gray delivered a professional performance. Regular rider Junior Alvarado helped her regroup just a couple of lengths off the pace set by Fiftyshays Ofgreen through splits of :25.30 and :50.59.

When Harvey’s Lil Goil commenced her bid leaving the backstretch, the stalking Persisto tried to move in tandem. Both overtook Fiftyshays Ofgreen, but Persisto could not match strides with the favorite.

A head up at the six-furlong mark in 1:14.70, Harvey’s Lil Goil was already bidding the field adieu rounding the far turn. She opened up swinging into the stretch and crossed the wire 7 1/2 lengths clear.

Her time of 1:54.49 won’t turn heads, but she was easing down late and covered significantly more ground than her rivals. According to Trakus, Harvey’s Lil Goil circumnavigated 6,058 feet, 56 more than runner-up Water White and 59 more than third-placer Fiftyshays Ofgreen.

Water White, beaten almost as far (6 1/2 lengths) when fifth in the Demoiselle (G2) to Mott’s Lake Avenue, earned 4 Oaks points. Fiftyshays Ofgreen picked up 2 points for staying on past the tiring Persisto, who got 1 point in fourth. Next came Ankle Monitor and Truth Hurts. Quality Heat was scratched.

“She was much the best. I was just the pilot,” Alvarado told NYRA publicity. “At the half-mile (mark), she switched gears and I let her run along there. She took over and didn’t do much.

“I didn’t want to fight with her to make her stand properly, but then she hopped at the break a little bit. In a stakes race, that’s not what you want, but she was much the best, so it didn’t matter.

“I would have liked to be second early on. I would have caught the corner the first turn. She outclassed the (field). We’ve always been pretty high on her and she showed up. She’s more advanced physically than mentally, but eventually she’ll catch up with that and hopefully keep moving forward.”

Harvey’s Lil Goil races for the Estate of her breeder, Harvey A. Clarke, and for Paul Braverman. Fourth in her premiere on the Aqueduct turf, she is now 2-for-2 on dirt. Her resume reads 3-2-0-0, $96,600.

Assistant trainer Leanna Willaford, who oversees the New York string, was happy to welcome Harvey’s Lil Goil back. The promising sophomore had shipped to Mott’s winter base at Payson Park in the interim.

“She ran really well and to expectations, or possibly even better,” Willaford said. “She came back up to us from Florida last week and has been here for a few days. She had been here prior from July until when she broke her maiden, so we know her well. She looks really about the same since she’s left and is progressing well, so it’s exciting.”

While the American Pharoah factor is sure to attract fans, the maternal half of the pedigree adds to her appeal. The Kentucky-bred is out of the unraced Tapit mare Gloria S, who is a half-sister to 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) champion I’ll Have Another. Gloria S is also a half to last year’s Shuvee (G3) and Turnback the Alarm (G3) winner Golden Award.