01/09/2012 3:18PM

Fair Grounds: Fresh start for Joyful Victory

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Larry Jones said he is looking forward to trying Joyful Victory in a race on grass.

It’s with far less fanfare than one season ago that Joyful Victory begins her 2012 racing campaign on Wednesday at Fair Grounds.

An early favorite for the 2011 Kentucky Oaks, Joyful Victory was one of the most prominent horses last winter at Oaklawn Park, where she lived up to early hype with a pair of blowout stakes wins in the Honeybee and the Fantasy. But the April 10 Fantasy would prove to be the high-water mark of the filly’s year. She wound up a decent fourth in the Kentucky Oaks but subsequently went off form, her final start at 3 a distant and disappointing fifth-place finish in the July 23 Coaching Club American Oaks.

Trainer Larry Jones thinks a knee chip Joyful Victory harbored at the time ended up bothering the horse more than her connections had first realized. That problem was surgically corrected months ago, and Jones hopes Joyful Victory now can follow through on the promise she showed in those early-season Oaklawn races. And this time around, with soon-to-be-named champion Havre de Grace residing in the same barn, Joyful Victory can play the role of understudy rather than star.

Joyful Victory, a Tapit filly owned by Rick Porter’s Fox hill Farms, was one of eight horses entered in a third-level allowance also open to $62,500 claimers. She breaks from post 1, with Robby Albarado named to ride her for the first time. The Wednesday feature is carded for grass – which Jones said he doesn’t mind trying with Joyful Victory – but a 24 to 36-hour period of rain was forecast for New Orleans early this week, and the race stands a good chance of being moved to the main track.

“We’re actually looking forward to the turf to see if we might have another dimension for her,” Jones said. “Fair Grounds had need of a horse for this race, and we saw no reason not to run. She’s had a couple nice five-eighths [works]. I’m not saying she’s 110 percent ready to go, but she galloped out pretty good the other day. Hopefully, her class is going to carry her a little way in there.”

On turf, Bet On the Blue looks like Joyful Victory’s main rival. Grade 3-placed on grass early in 2011, she finishes a close, closing third Dec. 17 in the Blushing K.D., a Fair Grounds turf stakes. Beloveda, entered main track only, figures to provide the main opposition in the event of a rain-off, but Jones beat Beloveda in an Nov. 27 off-the-turf race with a horse named Canadian Mistress, and he ought to be able to get her again with the likes of Joyful Victory.