Jones, Flint form mutual admiration society
Trainers Larry Jones and Bernie Flint were full of praise for each other on Sunday, one day after their respective charges, Mark Valeski and Cool Street, finished one-two in the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds.
Jones was in a jocular frame of mind Sunday morning as he accepted congratulations on behalf of Brereton Jones colorbearer Mark Valeski, who put in a winning late run in the Mineshaft after a seemingly hopeless entrapment at the eighth-pole.
"We decided this morning that we're going to take 'Mark' to Europe," Jones joked. "They like to keep their horses covered up over there, so maybe that should be this horse's new running style. As they saw in Europe, when Mark finally tipped to the outside, he really quickened."
Mark Valeski's win in Belmont's Grade 2 Peter Pan last summer was his lone prior stakes score despite close local runner-up losses last winter in the Grade 3 Risen Star and Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, and another second this winter in the Louisiana Handicap.
"I was thinking, 'Oh no, here we go again,'" Jones said of the Proud Citizen four-year-old's recent "seconditis" at Fair Grounds.
"For awhile there, I thought maybe we were looking at a case of 'lastitis,'" he continued. "Those were some good horses in front of him yesterday, and I also knew Bernie's horse was starting to get rolling. That's a real good horse Bernie has. If that horse gets in front of you, you're not going to catch him again.
"We'll be pointing Mark Valeski for the (Grade 3) New Orleans Handicap (on March 30) for his next start, and I'm sure Bernie will be pointing his horse that way, too.
"Also, I expect we're going to see Graydar and Bourbon Courage coming here for our race," Jones said, speaking of the one-two finishers in Gulfstream's Grade 1 Donn Handicap on February 9. "That New Orleans Handicap is going to be quite a race."
Cool Street was undefeated in four starts this season at Fair Grounds prior to Saturday's Mineshaft, and in that prelude to the upcoming New Orleans Handicap the four-year-old son of Street Cry closed like a freight train to finish second.
"My horse couldn't win with a slow pace like they had in that race yesterday," Flint said during training hours Sunday. "My horse was still last at the quarter-pole. He came charging after that. I've never seen a horse run as hard as he did in that last quarter.
"However, I knew we had no chance to catch Mark Valeski," Flint added. "That horse is a good horse and he's been training at the top of his game these last few weeks. I knew going into the race Mark Valeski was the horse we had to beat. That boy (Larry Jones) can really train a horse. He had his horse really sharp.
"We're going to go ahead and point for the next round," Flint concluded, speaking of the New Orleans 'Cap. "You got to with a horse like this. My horse is a coming horse right now, not a going horse."
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