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Barn Notes: Sunday, December 1



Cindy Jones, spouse and valued training assistant to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots-wintertime-based husband trainer Larry Jones, arrived in New Orleans more than two weeks ago to run their local barn, but Larry finally got into the Crescent City Saturday afternoon and was galloping horses over the local oval Sunday morning.  Notably, he was wearing a newly-grown beard.

“It just happened,” Jones said to a passing exercise rider when asked about the new facial adornment, but expanded on that topic once the track closed for training.  “I hadn’t shaved for a couple of days and I was watching ‘The Voice’ when (host) Carson Daly declared the month ‘No Shave November.’  So I decided to keep it on for a while. I went home for the holidays and my granddaughter liked to play with it so I kept it on a little longer.  Also, my mother had never seen me with a beard before.

“I didn’t tell Cindy anything about the beard and I surprised her with it yesterday when I got down here,” Jones said.  “She doesn’t seem to mind it too much just yet, but we’ll have to see how long that lasts.”

However, while Larry was enjoying his Thanksgiving break, it was Cindy who saddled Brereton Jones’ Same Cross for her 1 ¾-length victory in allowance and $62,500 optional claiming company here Friday.  That filly, like Brereton Jones’ Proud Spell, winner of the Grade I Kentucky Oaks and Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks in 2008, is by Proud Citizen out of a Langfuhr mare – hence her name. “She ran big the other day,” said Jones of Same Cross.  “We’re looking forward to having a nice winter campaign with her here.  We’re going to enter her in a lot of stakes during this meeting – even some on the turf.  We’ll enter her on the turf and do a little rain dance after we enter.

“Now, we have another 2-year-old filly for Brereton Jones named Keep Crossing who is a three-quarter sister to Same Cross by Istan,” Jones said.  “She’s only started once and finished third, but she looks like she’s going to be a runner, too.

“In fact, we have five or six 2-year-olds we think are going to be good ones,” said Jones, who lost Brereton Jones’  2012 Kentucky Oaks and 2012 Fair Grounds Oaks champion  Believe You Can to the breeding shed just over a week ago, and Fox Hill Farm’s Grade I Santa Margarita winner Joyful Victory shortly before that.

Also missing from the Larry Jones barn this year are both of his beloved longtime ponies: Pal and Rascal.

“It was time for them to get easier jobs, but we found good homes for them with a lady that used to be married to the late jockey Mike Rowland.  She has grandkids who wanted ponies to ride and both ponies still needed to have jobs to do, so it was a good fit all the way around.”

TRAINER BRET CALHOUN LIKELY FOR LOUISIANA CHAMPIONS DAY DEC. 14 —Trainer Bret Calhoun, who saddled Martin Racing Stable’s Marchman for Saturday’s $75,000 Woodchopper win by 2 ¾-lengths at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, is also likely to be well represented in Fair Grounds’ upcoming Louisiana Champions Day on Dec. 14.

“We’re looking at the ($100,000 Louisiana Champions Day) Sprint for (Robbie Norman’s) Hero Force,” said Calhoun assistant Tom Morgan on Sunday morning of the gray colt who won the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile last year.

“In this year’s ($100,000 Louisiana Champions Day) Juvenile, we have (Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s) Dixie Beat and maybe (Bob Gorsky’s) Yankee Gambler,” Morgan said of two 2-year-old geldings who both broke their maidens in their first and only outings, and in the ($100,000 Louisiana Champions Day) Lassie we might have Carl Moore Management’s Oh Baby Oh Baby, who has broken her maiden and been in the money in all four of her starts.

Asked how Marchman came out of his winning effort in Saturday’s Woodchopper, Morgan said, “He ate up good and everything’s good this morning.”

WOODCHOPPER FAVORITE GENERAL ELECTION DOING FINE SUNDAY MORNING—Hill ‘N Dale Farm’s General Election,  last most of the way before finishing in that position as the favorite in Saturday’s $75,000 Woodchopper at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, came out of the race without incident, according to trainer Neil Pessin.

“He just didn’t run,” said Pessin at his barn Sunday morning of the horse who won Churchill’s Grade III Jefferson Cup in his previous start.  “There’s nothing wrong with him, look at him looking at us with his head in the air like that.  When he came back to the barn after the race, he wasn’t even breathing hard.

“(Jockey) James (Graham) said he never even tried to run, like maybe he just didn’t like the (yielding) turf,” Pessin said, “or maybe he had a case of the B T’s – , you know, bad training.”

Despite his self-deprecating humor, Pessin saddled Lothenbach Stable’s Eden Prairie to win Friday’s $75,000 Pago Hop over the local lawn.