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Ellis Park: Joyful Victory, Believe You Can get a tune-up
Larry Jones had two of his stable stars out very early Friday at Ellis Park for a team work that the trainer is hoping will serve as a key stepping-stone to their next races.
As dawn broke over the western Kentucky track, Joyful Victory, with Gabriel Saez up, worked a mile in company with her younger stablemate, Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can, who had Ramon Vazquez aboard. The fillies stayed together for much of the way before Joyful Victory edged away by about five lengths, finishing in a swift 1:37 over a fast track.
Joyful Victory, unraced since March 17, is being pointed to the Ellis showcase, the Grade 3, $100,000 Gardenia Stakes on Aug. 11, while Believe You Can will ship to Saratoga next week to prepare for her next start in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes on Aug. 18.
“Joyful Victory just reaffirmed the way she’s been training when she stepped away real nice,” Jones said. “She has really been impressing me in the mornings with the way she’s trained. This was her first and last long work before the Gardenia. She’s set up real nice, I think.”
Joyful Victory, owned by the Fox Hill Farm of Rick Porter, is unraced since finishing third in the March 17 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
“She got a little sore in the high suspensories, but she’s perfect right now,” Jones said. “Sometimes, they just have little issues that you just have to slow down for.”
Jones, who is stabled for the first time in years at Ellis, his former longtime base, said he does not plan to take any horses other than Believe You Can to Saratoga.
“I think just she and I are going on a little vacation,” he said.
Jones said he wants to get two works over the Saratoga track into Believe You Can, with the first one on Aug. 6.
Believe You Can, bred and owned by former Kentucky Gov. Brereton C. Jones, has raced just once since her 13-1 upset in the May 4 Kentucky Oaks, finishing third in the Mother Goose at Belmont Park on June 23. The Friday work was her second since then.
Ellis Park clocker Billy Pettingill caught the duo in fractions of 23.80 seconds, 46.60, 59, 1:11.40, and 1:24.40, with Joyful Victory getting a 1 1/8-mile gallop-out time of 1:51.40. Jones had tentatively planned to work the pair together between races Friday, but the forecast was for another extremely hot day. They were the first set to hit the track about 5:30 a.m.
Simms’s juvenile stars ready to work
Trainer Garry Simms said he has planned Monday breezes at Churchill Downs for his 2-year-old stars, Blueeyesintherein and Circle Unbroken, in preparation for their next races, which will come at Mountaineer Park in West Virginia.
Simms became just the fifth trainer in Churchill history to sweep the track’s top spring juvenile races when Blueeyesintherein captured the June 23 Debutante Stakes and Circle Unbroken won the June 30 Bashford Manor. They will run next Saturday, Aug. 4, with Blueeyesintherein going in the Mountaineer Juvenile Fillies and Circle Unbroken in the Mountaineer Juvenile. Both are $100,000 races at six furlongs.
“I’m just going to do a little something with them to have them on their toes for next weekend,” Simms said.
He added he will leave the day before the race and “haul ’em up there myself,” a 320-mile drive.
Another Louisville-based horse, Hansen, will be ridden by Mike Smith as the heavy favorite in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby the same day. Kendall Hansen, majority owner in the colt he named for himself, owns a minority stake in both of the Simms 2-year-olds. Hansen is scheduled to breeze Tuesday at the Trackside training center.
First foal out of High Heels set for debut
The first foal out of the graded-stakes-winning mare High Heels will make her career debut Sunday at Ellis, when Grit and Grace, a 2-year-old filly by Tapit, runs in the third race at six furlongs for owner-breeder Anita Cauley and trainer Gary Hartlage. High Heels, an earner of nearly $485,000, is a half-sister to On Fire Baby, the standout 3-year-old filly who recently went to the sidelines, according to Hartlage.
Grit and Grace “is doing everything right so far, although I do think she wants to go longer,” Hartlage said.
Another 2-year-old filly named Shoe Queen “should be ready to run in about a month, and she might be the real deal,” Hartlage said. Shoe Queen is by E Dubai out of Ornate, making her a full sister to High Heels and On Fire Baby.
Meanwhile, On Fire Baby, a three-time graded stakes winner from eight career starts, came out of her fourth-place finish in the May 28 Acorn at Belmont Park with “some hot spots” on a nuclear scintigraphy exam and is being given a rest of about 60 more days, Hartlage said.
“She’s right here in the barn” at Churchill, he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have her back running at the fall meet here.”
Malibu High won’t race until Oaklawn Park
Malibu High, a 2-year-old colt who posted a flashy come-from-behind victory in his June 1 debut at Churchill, will not race again until January at Oaklawn Park, trainer Cecil Borel said Friday.
“He shin-bucked, and I won’t put him back in training for another month or so,” Borel said.
Malibu High, by Malibu Moon, came from 12 lengths back in the 4 1/2-furlong race and got up by a half-length under Calvin Borel, the trainer’s younger brother. He earned a 69 Beyer Speed Figure.
Bruder heading to Spa with Guys Reward
Mike Bruder, a constant presence at Ellis, his hometown track, probably will have to miss the Gardenia. Bruder, a longtime horse owner and local representative of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, plans to be at Saratoga to watch his stable star, Guys Reward, in the Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave.
Guys Reward, a 5-year-old horse, has been at a career peak in winning his last three starts, ending with the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap on closing day, July 1, at Churchill. He is part of the Dale Romans contingent that stayed behind at Churchill, while others were sent to Saratoga.
◗ With nothing but maiden and claiming events making up a nine-race card, there is no semblance of a feature race Sunday at Ellis. First post is 12:50 p.m. Central.