Jones trainees gearing up for the New Year
Mark Valeski, absent from active competition since winning the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park, accomplished a bullet three-furlong move in :36 1/5 Thursday morning at Fair Grounds in his first official work since that May 12 contest, and was a perfect picture of health Friday morning when trainer Larry Jones proudly showed him off in his stall.
"I was really pleased with the way he went yesterday and he's really looking great today," Jones said. "He really seems to be responding well. I'll probably give him another work in another six or seven days or so and then we'll try to get him back on a regular schedule."
Fair Grounds' two-time defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik was aboard for the move on the Proud Citizen colt, who was runner-up by a half-length in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby earlier this year and second by a nose in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes before that.
Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks heroine Believe You Can, who won the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks five weeks earlier for Jones, had her first work back last Monday, going the same three-eighths distance in :37 1/5. The Proud Citizen miss hasn't been seen in competition since finishing third in the Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont Park on June 23.
Also on Thursday, Summer Applause worked five furlongs in :59 for trainer Bret Calhoun. Summer Applause finished second behind Believe You Can in last spring's Fair Grounds Oaks but won the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes before that. Her last start came as a fourth-place run in the Kentucky Oaks.
Calhoun is pointing Summer Applause toward the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic at Sam Houston on January 26 but hopes to tighten her up with a race at Fair Grounds prior to that Texas outing. Before Thursday's move, Summer Applause had worked the same five-furlong distance in 1:00 on November 29.
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