Homeracing

Jockey Club Oaks international scouting reports: Harajuku, Creative Flair

Profile Picture: Kellie Reilly

September 16th, 2021

Saturday’s Jockey Club Oaks has lured two international shippers. Godolphin’s Creative Flair hopes for better luck than her third in the Saratoga Oaks (G3), and French maestro Andre Fabre sends Harajuku to Belmont Park.

French fillies furnished the exacta in the 2019 inaugural of this 1 3/8-mile affair on the inner turf, with favored Edisa denying 8-1 shot Wonderment. After the pandemic scuttled the race in 2020, Harajuku can put the tricolor back on the podium.

Update on Creative Flair

Because Creative Flair was treated in depth in the Saratoga Oaks scouting report, we’ll just give a quick update. The Charlie Appleby trainee was coming off a few fine efforts on the lead in Europe, so she was expected to race handy at the Spa. A slightly flatfooted start, however, put her behind the eight-ball. Aside from taking her out of her game, it was also an unfavorable position in general, considering how Con Lima got away with a tepid pace. Creative Flair did well in the circumstances to rally for third, as Appleby commented:

Creative Flair ran a very creditable race. She was a little slow from the gates, which meant she wasn’t in the best place to challenge turning in, but she did everything the right way round and finished her race well.

With Con Lima sidelined, and a better break, Creative Flair could work out her preferred trip here. The 1 3/8-mile distance is new territory, but her pedigree is favorable. By Dubawi, like her Jockey Club Derby-bound stablemate Yibir, she is out of a marathoner tracing to 1993 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) heroine Urban Sea, dam of Galileo and Sea the Stars.

Harajuku

The Niarchos homebred Harajuku sports a regal pedigree herself. As a daughter of Japanese legend Deep Impact and a Galileo mare, she is bred on the same cross as classic winners Saxon Warrior and Snowfall.

Harajuku is a half-sister to Japanese Grade 2 scorer King of Koji, who stayed about 1 9/16 miles. Their dam, Phaenomena, is a full sister to Irish classic victress Nightime, who produced champions Ghaiyyath and Zhukova (best known for drubbing males in the 2017 Man o’ War [G1]).

A stalk-and-pounce winner on debut at Chantilly, Harajuku beat future German Group 2 queen Amazing Grace. She then stepped up to Group company at ParisLongchamp in her remaining appearances as a juvenile. She closed for second to frontrunning King’s Harlequin in the 2020 Prix d’Aumale (G3), with eventual French 1000 Guineas (G1) winner Coeursamba third. Back over the same metric mile for the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) on Arc Day, Harajuku couldn’t put her best foot forward in a messy stretch run, on heavy going, and she finished eighth under considerate handling.

Harajuku was favored in her sophomore bow in an Apr. 3 conditions event at Saint-Cloud, but she ran as though in need of the race in third. Moving forward in the May 1 Prix Cleopatre (G3) over the same course and about 1 5/16-mile trip, Harajuku tracked pacesetter Incarville and drove clear to score her signature victory.

Incarville gained revenge in their rematch in the May 24 Prix Saint-Alary (G1) on very soft going. Taken back to last from her far outside post 11, Harajuku was unable to make much headway in the lane and checked in seventh.

As a 35-1 shot in the June 20 French Oaks (G1), Harajuku was rated far lower than her stablemates Philomene and Burgarita, and the yard’s pecking order held true. Philomene and Burgarita placed a close second and third, respectively, to Aidan O’Brien’s Joan of Arc, while Harajuku was sixth. In her defense, though, Harajuku tugged early when seeing too much daylight, advanced a long way out, and remained in the hunt until swamped in the final yards.

Harajuku has encountered unsuitably soft ground at Deauville in both ensuing starts, putting in context her fourth-place efforts. In the Aug. 3 Prix de Psyche (G3), she was well placed in the leaders’ slipstream, but couldn’t lift. Harakuju went down by a couple of lengths to Penja, who had been one spot behind her in the Saint-Alary. They finished much closer in the Aug. 21 Prix de la Nonette (G2), where another familiar foe, Rumi, got up over Penja, Rougir, and Harajuku in four-abreast formation at the wire. Favored British shipper Zeyaadah was a toss-out sixth after blowing the start.

As that summary reveals, the French fillies have been taking turns beating each other. If that tends to cool enthusiasm for Harajuku, it’s worth noting that the Jockey Club Oaks lacks comparable strength in depth.

Moreover, the formline through the consistent Rougir underscores the idea that Harajuku is at least on par with Creative Flair. Note that regular pilot Stephane Pasquier comes in for the ride as well. Harajuku just hopes that the Belmont inner turf doesn’t get too soft.

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