03/14/2012 4:21PM

Fair Grounds: Havre de Grace to face only four in New Orleans Ladies

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Tom Keyser
Havre de Grace, the 2011 Horse of the Year, will break from post 2 in Saturday's New Orleans Ladies.

Havre de Grace will break from post 2 and is scheduled to face four rivals in her 2012 debut on Saturday at Fair Grounds in the $150,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes. Ramon Dominguez, her regular rider, will travel to New Orleans to ride Havre de Grace.

The New Orleans Ladies, a race created for Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra when she made her first start of 2010, was drawn Wednesday. The Fair Grounds entry box stayed open well into the afternoon, but the connections of only four horses could be coaxed into taking on the 2011 Horse of the Year in what, on paper, figures to be a glorified workout for Havre de Grace.

Two of her Saturday rivals, Sterling Madame and Annabel Lee, are eligible for a second-level allowance race, though Sterling Madame was a sharp-looking winner of her two-turn debut when last seen Dec. 28. Distorted Love has lost six races in a row since winning a second-level allowance race last May at Churchill Downs. Juanita, who drew the outside, is a five-time winner whose signature victory was a front-running score over four foes last fall in the Grade 2 Indiana Oaks at Hoosier Park.

Havre de Grace, the property of Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms, has won 8 of 15 starts and almost $2.5 million in purses, and has been worse than third only once in her career, finishing fourth in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic, her most recent race. The 5-year-old mare has turned in exceptional workouts (including a six-furlong drill in a jaw-dropping 1:11.40 on March 5) for her first start of the season, and appears to be a horse that runs well fresh, having won her first start in of both 2010 and 2011.

Her trainer, Larry Jones, has deemed Havre de Grace fit and ready to roll in her seasonal debut, and expressed no worries about an inside draw Saturday.

“It really didn’t matter to us,” Jones said. “As I’ve always said, she’s one of those that I don’t have to worry about things with. She does whatever we need her to do. She doesn’t care. You always worry about being race-ridden, but she really, truly can handle whatever’s thrown at her.”

The New Orleans Ladies will be contested and 1 1/16 miles, a distance at which Havre de Grace has 4 wins and 2 seconds from 6 starts. The Ladies goes as race 9 on the card with post time scheduled for 4:50 Central.

New Orleans Ladies, Post Time: 4:50 CT Saturday

Purse: $150,000; 1 1/16 miles

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Sterling Madame

T. Amoss

J. Graham

8-1

1

Havre de Grace

J. Jones

R. Dominguez

1-5

1

Annabel Lee

K. Schwartz

J. Jacinto

30-1

1

Distorted Love

H. Pitts

R. Eramia

12-1

1

Juanita

M. Maker

R. Napravnik

5-1