01/23/2012 5:53PM

Fair Grounds: Believe You Can, Mr. Bowling moving on to next round

Lynn Roberts
Mr. Bowling wins the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds. He is being pointed to the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 25.

Trainer Larry Jones’s pair of 3-year-old stakes winners, Believe You Can and Mr. Bowling, took their Saturday starts well, Jones said Monday morning. Both were scheduled to return to the track for morning training Wednesday, and both are headed to the next round of 3-year-old stakes racing on Feb. 25 in New Orleans – Believe You Can to the Rachel Alexandra Stakes and Mr. Bowling to the Risen Star.

Believe You Can ran a significantly faster raw time for one mile 70 yards – 1:42.34 to 1:43.49 – winning the Silverbulletday Stakes than did Mr. Bowling in capturing the Lecomte, and Beyer Speed Figure calculators saw things about the same as the clock – Believe You Can got a flashy 91 Beyer for her win, while Mr. Bowling was assigned a rather pedestrian 79.

The Silverbulletday came early on the program, in race 6, while the Lecomte went as race 11. A one mile and 70-yard maiden heat, race 8, actually went in a faster time than the Lecomte, 1:43.42, and in race 9, the Louisiana Handicap, Thiskyhasnolimit ran 1 1/16 miles in a snappy 1:43.67, suggesting the surface hadn’t slowed at that point. The Lecomte, however, was contested just as darkness was falling, and it’s possible the main track could have changed at least slightly between the Louisiana Handicap and the Lecomte.

In any case, Mr. Bowling’s victory will send another Jones 3-year-old prospect, Mark Valeski, to Oaklawn Park for his next start. Mark Valeski impressively won a Delaware Park maiden race last fall and returned from a layoff to score a sharp first-level sprint allowance win earlier this month at Fair Grounds. Jones thinks of Mark Valeski as a solid stretch-out candidate, and the Proud Citizen colt will get his chance at two turns in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn.

Z Dager points to Risen Star

Steve Asmussen’s notable stakes performers Saturday, Thiskyhasnolimit and Z Dager, both came out of their respective races in good shape, Asmussen said. If all goes well, Z Dager, beaten a head in the Lecomte while making his third career start and first outside the maiden ranks, will get another shot at Mr. Bowling in the Risen Star, while Thiskyhasnolimit is a candidate for the Mineshaft Handicap on Feb. 25.

Thiskyhasnolimit, 5, earned a career-top 101 Beyer winning the Louisiana Handicap by one length while making his first start since July 6. Second to Lookin At Lucky in the 2010 Indiana Derby, Thisskyhasnolimit won only one of five starts in 2011, but appears to have returned from a layoff in great condition.

Mr. Vegas could stretch out

The tentative plan before Saturday had been to give Mr. Vegas a break and bring him back in the spring, perhaps against fellow New York-breds, but Mr. Vegas caused his connections to reconsider their plans by winning the Grade 3 Colonel Bradley Handicap by 1 1/2 lengths Saturday. The victory was his third in a row, all during this Fair Grounds meet, and produced a career-best Beyer of 97. It might have earned Mr. Vegas a spot in the Feb. 25 Fair Grounds Handicap. At 1 1/8 miles, that race might be pushing Mr. Vegas’s distance limitations, but Mr. Vegas has been exceeding expectations lately.

“We’re going to talk about what to do this week,” trainer Richie Scherer said. “As good as he is and as much as he likes this course, it might be worth trying one and one-eighth miles once to see if he can do it.”

Worldly has surgery for fracture

Worldly suffered a nondisplaced condylar fracture to his right hind leg while finishing seventh in the Louisiana Handicap and was to have a stabilizing screw surgically inserted in the leg Wednesday in Kentucky, trainer Paul McGee said.

“I don’t know if he’ll race again,” McGee said. “It’s not impossible, but given his age and career stats, that’s to be determined.”

◗ Leading rider Rosie Napravnik took off her mounts Sunday, but hoped to return to action again on Wednesday’s card. Napravnik was walking with a limp Saturday after riding Believe You Can to victory in the Silverbulletday Stakes and has been riding with two sprained ankles suffered when she was thrown from a mount before a race Jan. 8.