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Wednesday Notes: Havre de Grace Fit to Dance in New Orleans Ladies
The only thing the nation’s reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace has left to do prior to her 2012 debut in Saturday’s $150,000 New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots is gallop up to the race.
“That work she had Monday (five furlongs in 59.60 on a track rated fast) was exactly what we were looking for,” said Cindy Jones, wife and invaluable assistant to trainer Larry Jones during training hours Wednesday morning at Fair Grounds. “She did it real easy – without being asked for anything extra – but we’re very pleased with how it went and she came out of it real well.”
Fox Hill Farms, owner of Havre de Grace as well as Joyful Victory, post time favorite for last spring’s Kentucky Oaks and a projected starter in Oaklawn Park’s $150,000 Azeri Stakes, will have the Jones’s fighting a war on two fronts Saturday with the juggling act already underway.
“Larry and I will both be here at Fair Grounds for Havre de Grace’s race Saturday,” said Mrs. Jones, “but he went home for awhile to shower and change before he hauls Joyful Victory up to Oaklawn this afternoon. The plan is that he will stay up there (at Hot Springs) tonight, gallop (Joyful Victory) in the morning and then head back here to Fair Grounds tomorrow afternoon.
“Corey York (another valued member of the Jones team) will stay up there at Oaklawn and saddle Joyful Victory this weekend,” she added.
“You never know what’s going to happen in horseracing,” concluded Mrs. Jones, “but we’re expecting a winning performance from Havre de Grace this weekend. “We’re very excited about this race. Havre de Grace has a bull’s-eye on her back – there’s no doubt about that – but that’s to be expected considering what she’s done in her career so far.”
Havre de Grace will join 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra as the second Horse of the Year in the last three Fair Grounds seasons to begin her subsequent campaign in the New Orleans Ladies. That filly finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in the inaugural edition of Fair Grounds’ richest event for older fillies and mares.
In 1942, Horse of the Year Whirlaway won the Louisiana Handicap at the Crescent City oval.
TWO LOUISIANA DERBY CANDIDATES ON MONDAY FAIR GROUNDS WORK TAB – There was no racing in the afternoon Monday at Fair Grounds, but two candidates for the upcoming $1 million Louisiana Derby on this season’s closing day April 1 were active over the local course Monday morning.
Zayat Stables’ Z Dager, third in Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes as the designed prep for the 99th running of the Louisiana Derby but second by a head in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes before that, went five furlongs in 1:01.80 while the track was rated fast. That move was in company with 4-year-old Grade II New Orleans Handicap candidate Nehro.
Jerry Namy’s Shared Property, fifth in the $300,000 Risen Star but third in the Lecomte, accomplished the same distance while the track was rated “good” in 1:02.60.
LEADING RIDER ROSIE NAPRAVNIK APPROACHING 100TH WIN OF SEASON – Defending Fair Grounds riding champion and current leading rider Rosie Napravnik is three wins shy of the 100-win mark for the current season entering Thursday’s racing program – the 73rd racing day of an 84-day meeting.
Napravnik won last season’s local crown with 110 wins, 31 more than last season’s runner-up Shaun Bridgmohan, who had captured Fair Grounds championship honors the previous winter.
Entering Thursday’s races, Napravnik has 97 wins, 29 more than current runner-up James Graham, who won last summer’s riding title at Arlington Park.
Randy Romero holds the record for most wins at a Fair Grounds meet with 181 during the 1983-1984 stand. The last jockey aside from Napravnik to record 100 wins at Fair Grounds was Joe Talamo in 2006-2007 with 118.
Defending trainer champion and current leading condition Steve Asmussen was credited with 51 wins entering Thursday’s races, 20 more than current runner-up Tom Amoss. Asmussen has already exceeded his local win total of last season, when he was credited with 46 winners at the end of the meeting.
In the owner standings, Asmussen and Maggi Moss are tied with 14 wins apiece, while former Kentucky governor Brereton Jones is third with 11.
FAIR GROUNDS HALL OF FAME INDUCTS FOUR NEW MEMBERS MARCH 10 – Four new members were inducted into the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame between races last weekend at the nation’s third oldest race course.
Trainer Al Stall Jr., with two trainer championships to his credit at the local oval, fourth in the current standings and son of Fair Grounds Hall of Fame member Al Stall, was introduced into the local Hall of Fame by trainer Tom Amoss, a nine-time Fair Grounds trainer champion who is already among the honored members of that group.
The late National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel was also inducted into the local Hall Saturday, and is the only conditioner in Fair Grounds history two capture all four of Fair Grounds’ marquee races – the Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds Oaks, New Orleans Handicap and Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap.
The late J. R. Smith Sr., trainer of numerous Fair Grounds stakes winners but primarily known for his sagacious claiming ability, was recalled through the memories of trainer Wes Hawley, who once worked as Smith’s assistant and is currently eighth in the local standings.
Dorothy Brown’s Dapper Delegate, who captured Fair Grounds’ 1965 Louisiana Derby and Lecomte Stakes, was the lone equine inductee among this winter’s honorees.