11/05/2011 7:31PM

Breeders' Cup Classic: 'No regrets' about Havre de Grace, says Jones

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Kim Pratt
Trainer Larry Jones (right) said Havre de Grace will return next year to race at age 5.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Larry Jones and his owner Rick Porter could have gone the safe route and run Havre de Grace in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, a race in which she finished third at 3 and would have been heavily favored to win at Churchill Downs on Friday.

Instead, Jones and Porter decided to shoot for the grand prize, Horse of the Year honors, by entering Havre de Grace in Saturday's main event, the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic. That gamble fell three lengths short after Havre de Grace finished fourth behind upset winner Drosselmeyer in the 1 1/4-mile Classic.

Havre de Grace, a 4-year-old daughter of Saint Liam, sewed up divisional honors with her victories against males in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga and a one-sided decision over Ladies' Classic winner Royal Delta in the Grade 1 Beldame.  She didn't get the cleanest of trips in the Classic, first bumping with Headache going into the first turn and fanning wide coming off the final bend. She seemed to be on the verge of dropping out of contention altogether entering the stretch before running on gamely from between horses through the final furlong to finish fourth, just a half-length behind third place finisher Ruler on Ice.

"Rick likes to run where the gusto, is and I ran her where he wanted to go," said Jones, who took over Havre de Grace's training from Tony Dutrow after coming out of retirement at the beginning of the year.
 
"It was good. She ran well and certainly didn't tarnish herself," Jones said immediately after the Classic. "She really didn't get the trip, the 11 horse [Headache] laid on us pretty good from the start, and it was a blanket finish for third. We have no regrets about running her here."

Havre de Grace conclude her 2011 campaign with 5 wins in 7 starts and earnings of over $1.6 million.  Along with the Woodward and Beldame, she also captured the Grade 1 Apple Blossom and easily defeated Blind Luck in the Grade 3 Azeri earlier this year at Oaklawn Park.

"She gave us a great season. We couldn't have predicted it when she came to us in the spring," said Jones when asked to looked back on Havre de Grace's year. "She's been a very special horse and she's certainly been very special for us."

Jones also confirmed Porter's decision to bring Havre de Grace back again to race as a 5-year-old in 2012.

"She's still got another year ahead of her," said Jones. "We'll keep her in Kentucky for a little bit then send her down to the farm in Florida for six weeks, after which she'll rejoin our barn this winter at the Fair Grounds."