Cousin Mary to make open debut at Yonkers
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Although Cousin Mary can be high-strung on the racetrack, sometimes kicking at her rivals as she jogs, she is a joy to work with in the barn, Harris explained.
"She doesn't do a thing wrong. She goes out with Jewel Lehigh; they're best buddies. They holler at each other when they're leaving the stalls, they hang out all the time," he said. "My 3-year-old daughter goes in and pets ‘Mary' all the time, brushes her legs and stuff like that. She's just a doll to have in the barn."
Cousin Mary's most recent race came in the $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational at Harrah's Philadelphia May 28. Starting from the outside, driver David Miller was forced to take her off the pace, an uncharacteristic position for her. She raced at the back of the field before advancing one position up the pylons nearing the three-quarters.
As rival Sassa Hanover tired in front of her, Cousin Mary was forced to shift outside on the final turn. Although Cousin Mary finish seventh, 9 lengths behind winner Lady Shadow, she paced her fastest mile to date, individually timed in 1:50.4.
"I never expected her to win that class, but it was a situation where we didn't know what we had and we had to go to an open somewhere and we might as well take a shot for bigger money," Harris explained. "The thing that I liked about it, it just keeps stretching her out. She just keeps dropping time, she keeps getting faster. She comes out of the race and nothing affects her. Nothing bothers her. She can turn the page quicker than I can."
Cousin Mary will face open mares again Friday night when she starts from post six in Yonkers' weekly distaff feature. She and driver Jordan Stratton are the 5-1 morning line third choice behind 3-1 favorite I Said Diamonds, who will make her seasonal debut, and 7/2 Lispatty. Hidden Land, Sensationalgabby, Delightful Dragon, Freeze Out, and Beyonces Rockn are also set to go postward.
"I think she fits with them, I really do," Harris sad. "If she was good enough to be in the Betsy Ross, she's good enough to be in the Open Mares at Yonkers. I don't think she's in with any killers here. Some real nice mares, but I hold her in that regard as well. Jordan knows her and gets along with her really well, so I have confidence he'll find her the right trip."
While Harris is confident in Cousin Mary and Stratton, the new track configuration at Yonkers gives the trainer pause. Friday night's races will be the first to feature the new finish line, located 105 feet up the stretch from its previous location. The stretch drive will now be 555 feet instead of 660 and horses will have a longer drive into the first turn.
"I'm really interested in this new starting line," Harris said. "I'm going to be a fan watching it just seeing how it goes because I don't know how it's going to change the complexion of racing. My filly has great gate speed, but I don't know how much this is going to change everything. I'm going to have to watch a couple race before I can even gauge how much of an affect this is going to have on the racing at Yonkers." (SOANY)