03/20/2012 4:06PM

Fair Grounds: Havre de Grace decision pending weight assignment

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Lynn Roberts
Havre de Grace, with Ramon Dominguez riding, is an easy winner of the New Orleans Ladies.

Trainer Larry Jones remained adamant that a decision on whether Havre de Grace will make her next start in the Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn won’t be reached until the weights for the April 13 race are released on April 7.

Havre de Grace, Jones said, came out of her 4 1/2-length win in the New Orleans Ladies on Saturday at Fair Grounds in fine physical condition, and was scheduled to return to regular training Wednesday.

“She put in a pretty dazzling performance,” Jones said. “She just kind of looked like she was galloping out there.”

Jones and owner Rick Porter were upset last summer when Havre de Grace narrowly lost the Delaware Handicap to Blind Luck while conceding two pounds to that rival. Pat Pope, the racing secretary at Delaware who assigned weights for that race, serves in the same capacity at Oaklawn and will weight the Apple Blossom nominees, too.

“There’s nothing set in stone about where Havre de Grace starts,” Jones said. “We’ll nominate to the Apple Blossom and the Oaklawn Handicap. If our gut tells us we’re not getting a fair shake on weights, we’re not going to do it. We do understand that we’re going to give most every horse in the country weight this year, but I’m not giving multiple Grade 1 stakes winners a lot of weight.”

Charles Berger More than 1 year ago
The "sport" of horseracing is not what it was twenty to thirty years ago. Supposed older champion horses do not carry sufficient weight when competing with lesser foes today.Zenyatta did carry 130lbs afew years back, but the competition was no where near her in ability. Maybe 135 lbs would have been a fairer assignment. Yes, it's nice to see the "Champ" still racing, but I certainly don't want to see the sport made a mockery of.
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
Good points on both sides and Larry Jones is a class guy. Ultimately it will be painful to see the connections squeezing lbs from lesser foes. If she runs with males she'll get weight. If she runs with her sex she will have to give some. How much seems to be the real question. I don't like the aspect of them blackmailing tracks into a low assignment so they can get an easy check - or they won't run. Still, I am glad she is running at all. Her first run of this year was ridiculous - if they do that again the connections will become a source of ridicule. This is case where both sides need to give a little - she needs to pack weight but not so much as to make her too vulnerable. Let's see what happens from here.
thomas b More than 1 year ago
This is just one aspect of this sport that is contributing to it's decline. But by no means is it a new precedent. No you cannot compare the two mares (Zenyatta and Havre de Grace) and there certainly is no comparison as far as the connections. Zenyatta carried 130 pounds twice in her career with out Sherriffs or the Mosses batting an eye. Handicap racing is handicap racing and it makes great champions. The fact of the matter is HdG got a 2 pound break from a bunch of has beens this past week in New Orleans in a race seemingly designed just for her. She could have run in the Azeri at OP or the Santa Margarita at SA or even use the 7 furlong stake at Gulfstream as a comeback. But no instead she ran in a paid workout. Now they want to run in arguably the most prestigious distaff race as long as the reigning HOY is on equal terms with another group of classier, yet still inferior mares? C'mon! If they were sportsman and if they cared about this sport they would run their mare because it makes the race better and the sport better. Stop with the paid workouts where we don't get to see greatness. The connections of HdG, and so many other big name outfits, should not use their horses previous accomplishments to blackmale racetracks to give weight, or create specific conditions, or else they run somewhere else. Pretty shameful and unsportsmanlike, and provides no benefit to the fan or the better.
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Ange: There is a big difference to galloping with 180 on your back in the early morning and racing at 40MPH with 180 instead of 120. Mr. James: I don't think they fear anyone but simply respect everyone. They showed little fear last year in NY by facing males and then again in the Classic. They could have been 3-5 in the Ladies Classic. Owning and training a champion seems to heighten the responsibility. I am sure Moss/Shirreffs felt the same pressure even early on with Zenyatta. And no I am not comparing the two mares just the pressure/responsibility associated with planning a campaign befitting a champion. I don't know the motivation in trying to get the FG purse raised. I seriously doubt Rick Porter would have much lost sleep over $50,000. I know Larry does not, his share of the hike knowing Larry probably went to a needed charity somewhere. I encourage folks to tone done the hate dial on the connections. Try being thankful they brought the 5 year old back for more racing. Our beloved sport needs this. Take a deep breath all, I assure you there will be some mega matchups with this mare and both sexes in 2012 assuming health allows. Gamesmanship with racing secretaries is as old as the KY Derby. Jones/Porter are not the first and follow in a long line of hallowed trainer/owners who used the tactic. Frankel, Whittingham, they all did it. Just part of the job description. Keeneland Capper: You can call Larry Jones anything you like but anyone that has been around the man would not ever associate the Cowboy Hat and greed. I do agree Blind Luck was incredible at DEL and many other times. She ran by late and was a wonderful filly in her own right. Clearly the most memorable moment of my 2011. Complaining about the two pounds seemed trivial to me but Larry explained his thinking passionately to me outside a barn on a late Saturday evening at Saratoga. I left the barn thinking I don't know as much as I thought I did walking in. Clearly I am biased but I do think the connections and HDG will give racing fans their money's worth this year.
Grass Is Greener More than 1 year ago
#1 If a horse can carry Larry Jones around, he/she should be automatic 130. #2 I like to talk just to hear myself talk.
Ange More than 1 year ago
I love this mare, I think she's great but I agree with others, her connections leave a lot to be desired. Demanding a purse increase in order to run her in the N.O. Ladies, opting to run her there with such a low weight and little competition. I mean, she totes Larry's butt around out there every morning and he's no featherweight! If they're so afraid of the weights she's going to be assigned, and deserves to be assigned, they should just retire her.
akhiym james More than 1 year ago
Larry Jones and Rick Porter are so scared of getting this horse beat it is ridiculous. Owners and trainers who had some of the greatest horses in thoroughbred racing history never worried about how much weight their horse was carrying. If they had a champion like they thought they put the horse in the race not caring about the weight and the competition in the race. It becoming sad how these owners and trainers duck certain races because of weight and competition. What are they in the sport for
KeenelandCapper More than 1 year ago
larry jones is becoming a joke and greedy imo...124 to blind lucks 122?? you serious? She came into you're backyard in a race that you aimed for all season...HDG had it all her own way in that race at delaware and still lost..Blind Luck was all heart and HDG was never a better horse..she may have the better loooks and better pedigree but NOT the HEART that Blind Luck displayed...also would like to say i think Mr porter is greed machine too....