Keeping up with the Jones fillies is not easy at Fair Grounds
Last winter it was Brereton Jones's Believe You Can who parlayed a win in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks to another in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs a few weeks later for trainer Larry Jones. Four years ago it was that same owner's Proud Spell who pulled off that same graded Oaks double for that same trainer.
However, it should be noted that Believe You Can kicked off her sophomore campaign with a score in Fair Grounds' Silverbulletday Stakes, first leg of the local series for three-year-old fillies, and four years ago, in 2009, it was Just Jenda, owned by Larry's wife and hardworking assistant trainer, Cindy Jones, who won the Silverbulletday (then called Tiffany Lass).
Who does Larry Jones have in mind for this season's upcoming Silverbulletday as part of Road to the Derby Kickoff Day on January 19? Could it be Bret Jones's Dancinginthecircle, who Larry Jones vanned over to Delta Downs last Thursday to win Delta's By the Light Stakes by nine lengths on Friday night?
"It's still a little early to think about that race until we see how quickly she bounces back from that win the other night," Larry Jones said of the Divine Park chestnut filly, who finished third beaten a neck and a nose in Chicago's Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie last September. "She ran a really big race the other night, and the Silverbulletday would only be a 15-day turn around. She's a nice filly and there's no need to rush her along right now.
"I am targeting the Silverbulletday for (Fox Hill Farms') Smitten," he added about the gray daughter of Tapit who broke her maiden at last asking going a mile and 70 yards at Fair Grounds on December 16. "I think she learned a lot in that last race. She's starting to be more of a push-button type of horse now. In fact, she's improving so fast lately that she's starting to remind me of where (Fox Hill Farms') Eight Belles was at this point in her career."
Eight Belles won Oaklawn Park's Martha Washington, Grade 3 Honeybee and Grade 2 Fantasy for Jones and finished second in the 2008 Kentucky Derby but suffered catastrophic injuries when pulling up.
Meanwhile, Believe You Can is progressing nicely this winter, according to Jones, and at the present time is being pointed for Fair Grounds' Tiffany Lass Stakes on February 2.
Brereton Jones's Mark Valeski, winner of Belmont's Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes last spring after finishing second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, worked five furlongs in :59 4/5 on Sunday morning over Fair Grounds' sloppy main dirt. Brereton Jones's Mr. Bowling, winner of the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes in New Orleans last winter, was timed for the same distance in 1:01 Sunday morning.
However, both of those works were compromised by a training-hours incident that occurred in front of them while they were working. Neither horse is being targeted for specific goals at this time, although the January 19 Louisiana Handicap is under some consideration for Mark Valeski.
Also working at Fair Grounds on Sunday was Iroquois Racing Club's Gal About Town, most recently second by a half-length in Churchill Downs' Grade 2 Golden Rod on November 24, who breezed six furlongs from the gate in 1:13 3/5 for trainer Bret Calhoun. The City Zip miss, whose work came over the track when it was rated fast, is being pointed for the Silverbulletday.
"Everything is good with her so far and she worked good today," said Calhoun's assistant trainer, Peaches Geier, later in the morning.
Gary and Mary West's Tour Guide, an accomplished sprinter who easily won Fair Grounds' Sugar Bowl Stakes at last asking on December 22 for Calhoun, breezed an easy mile over the New Orleans venue's fast dirt in 1:44 2/5 Saturday morning and is now under strong consideration for the Lecomte going a mile and 70 yards on January 19, Road to the Derby Kickoff Day.
"Basically, we just 'two-minute licked' him a mile to try and stretch him out a little," Geier noted. "This time of year if you've got a nice three-year-old you want to stretch him out if you can."
In the only two-turn race of his career to date, the bay son of Broken Bow made the pace in Delaware Park's Dover Stakes last October but gave way steadily after going three-quarters to finish fifth, beaten 13 lengths, at the wire.
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