05/08/2013 1:26PM

Churchill Downs: Jones weighs options for Joyful Victory, Believe You Can

Shigeki Kikkawa
Joyful Victory, the winner of the Grade 1 Santa Margarita in March, will run May 27 in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Larry Jones wants to keep his standout distaffers separated, but he’s having a bit of a hard time with it.

Joyful Victory will run later this month in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park, and while Jones said he likely will save Believe You Can for the June 15 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs, he has not ruled out a run in the Belmont race for her, too.

Joyful Victory tuned up for the May 27 Phipps with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.20 over a fast track Wednesday at Churchill. The 5-year-old gray mare, owned by the Fox Hill Farms of Rick Porter, has emerged as a divisional leader after winning her last start, the Grade 1 Santa Margarita on March 16, by four lengths.

Believe You Can, the 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner for former Kentucky Gov. Brereton C. Jones, was a disappointing third here last Friday in the La Troienne on the Oaks undercard after two easy romps in New Orleans to open her 4-year-old campaign.

“The owners want to keep them apart, and that’s fine by me,” Jones said. “Believe You Can did come out of her race so good that I wouldn’t mind thinking about taking her to New York, too. They’re talking about how tough the Fleur de Lis might come up.”

The $400,000 Phipps goes at 1 1/16 miles, while the Grade 2, $175,000 Fleur de Lis will be run at 1 1/8 miles on an evening program anchored by the Stephen Foster Handicap.

Bill Mott has penciled in the Fleur de Lis as the comeback spot for Royal Delta, the champion older female of 2012. Royal Delta, a well-beaten 10th in the Dubai World Cup in March, won the Fleur de Lis by eight lengths last June in her first post-Dubai start.

The Fleur de Lis also is expected to get On Fire Baby, the winner of the Grade 1 Apple Blossom and a narrowly beaten runner-up to Authenticity in the La Troienne.

Ultimately, the Nov. 1 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic is the goal for both of his distaff stars, Jones said.

“Obviously, the challenge is getting them both there the right way,” he said.

Apprentice Davis gets his shot

One name likely to become familiar to Churchill horseplayers this spring is Dylan Davis, if for no other reason than trainer Wesley Ward is in his corner.

Davis, 18, has ridden sparingly since coming to Kentucky last month, but now that a number of big-name jockeys have left after the Kentucky Derby, more opportunities should be opening up. Davis, who notched his fifth career win at Keeneland last month, rides with a seven-pound weight allowance.

As racing resumed here this week, Ward had Davis named to ride five races for him on the first two programs – two Thursday and three Friday.

“I like him a lot,” said Ward, the noted trainer of fast 2-year-olds. “He’s a good listener, and he’s eager. He has a lot of upside.”

Davis is the son of retired jockey Robbie Davis. His older sister, Jackie, has been an active jockey since 2008.

◗ The next race is undecided for Speedinthruthecity, a resurgent allowance winner on the Oaks undercard, according to Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. But one thing’s for sure – it won’t be over a synthetic surface.

“Throw out her two races at Keeneland, and her form looks pretty good,” Blasi said of Speedinthruthecity, a 3-year-old filly who was stakes-placed early in her career before her form went awry over the Polytrack surface at Keeneland. “I’m sure we’ll find something for her.”

◗ Soft Whisper, a sharp winner of a third-level turf allowance on Oaks Day for David Vance, could race again at this meet if the proper conditions are available, said Trisha Vance, the trainer’s daughter and assistant.

Otherwise, the $75,000 Firecracker Stakes on July 2 at Mountaineer Park is the next goal for Soft Whisper, a 4-year-old Bernstein filly owned in part by former Churchill chairman Carl Pollard.

◗ There are no six-figure stakes here until May 25, a span of three weeks from the Derby. The feature this Saturday is the $65,000 Unbridled Sidney, an overnight stakes for female turf sprinters.

The Sunday program, as usual, will be attended by an untold number of families celebrating Mother’s Day. Churchill always has heavy bookings in its dining areas for the day.