03/07/2013 2:07PM

Fair Grounds: Believe You Can towers over opposition in New Orleans Ladies

Barbara D. Livingston
Believe You Can will be a heavy favorite in Saturday's New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds.

NEW ORLEANS – When a trainer has a horse so heavily favored to the extent that a targeted race might lack sufficient opposition to actually fill, that trainer will sometimes enter another horse or two to insure that the race goes. And then the trainer might scratch those “fillers” after the race has been safely printed on the program.

Such a possibility presents itself Saturday at Fair Grounds with the fourth running of the $150,000 New Orleans Ladies. Believe You Can, the 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner for trainer Larry Jones, will be a huge favorite regardless of how many of the six fillies and mares actually start in the 1 1/16-mile race – although Jones said Thursday that he fully intends to also run his other two entries, Young And Lovely and Totally Tucker.

“We’re running all three,” Jones said. “We’re going to try to be 1-2-3. I’ve never done that before.”

Whichever way the trifecta comes, most fans will have little doubt that Believe You Can will fill the win slot. The 4-year-old filly was a 10 1/4-length winner of her 4-year-old debut five weeks ago when returning from a seven-month layoff as the 1-5 favorite in the Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds. A similar tote price is likely Saturday when she breaks from the outside post with leading jockey Rosie Napravnik back aboard.

“We’re going to take it as easy as we can with her this first half of the year,” Jones said. “Obviously, we were pleased with the way she came back. I haven’t thought a lot beyond this race other than we’ll want to work backward from the Breeders’ Cup [Ladies’ Classic]. We’ll start honing in on that with some tougher races in late summer and the fall, but before that we’ll want to space out her races pretty good. I’m guessing the next logical spot would be the La Troienne” on the May 3 Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs. “That’d be eight weeks between races, which would be about the right amount of spacing for now.”

Believe You Can, bred and owned by former Kentucky Gov. Brereton C. Jones, has had two workouts since the Tiffany Lass, the latest a bullet five-furlong blowout in 59.40 seconds here Monday.

“We’re back on a nice schedule with her,” Larry Jones said.

As for the other two Jones fillies, both are still eligible for second-level allowances. That’s roughly on a par with the three non-Jones runners in the Ladies, the most accomplished of whom is Imposing Grace, the distant runner-up in the Tiffany Lass.

Imposing Grace, trained by Wayne Catalano, will be wearing blinkers for the first time when she breaks from post 1 with Jimmy Graham aboard. The 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker ran down one of the Jones fillies, Young And Lovely, when capturing a second-level allowance route here in January.

The Ladies goes as the seventh of 11 Saturday races, with post time set for 3:58 p.m. Central. For wagering purposes, there are no stable couplings.