03/13/2012 2:08PM

Fair Grounds: Havre de Grace scaring away New Orleans Ladies rivals

Barbara D. Livingston
Havre de Grace is likely to face a small field in Saturday's New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds.

Havre de Grace, the 2011 Horse of the Year, completed the heavy lifting for her 2012 debut with a five-furlong workout in 59.60 seconds on Monday morning at Fair Grounds. It remains to be seen what sort of opposition can be rustled up to take her on Saturday in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes.

Entries for the New Orleans Ladies will be taken Wednesday, and there will not be a surplus of them. Ten horses were nominated to the New Orleans Ladies, and none of the best of them will line up to challenge a champion. The New Orleans Ladies was created two years ago as a spot for reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra to make her seasonal debut, and the race’s allowance conditions create a situation where lesser runners with a recent win carry more weight than a top-class horse like Havre de Grace returning from a winter break. The presence of a multiple Grade 1 winner in this year’s field means the race’s purse will be $150,000, rather than $100,000, and $2,500 will be paid to any starter, but the New Orleans Ladies remains an ungraded race that includes an 800-pound gorilla.

“If you’re going to run against really good horses, you might as well run in a graded stakes,” said trainer Carl Bowman, speaking Tuesday morning from Oaklawn Park, where he shipped Fair Grounds-based Ravi’s Song for the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes on Saturday.

Joyful Victory, Havre de Grace’s stablemate and another New Orleans Ladies nominee, also will race in the Azeri. Daisy Devine, one of the best older females in New Orleans, is bypassing the Ladies for the Bayou Handicap on turf later this month.

Oaklawn-based Tiz Miz Sue is highly unlikely to ship in, leaving as possible entrants Distorted Love, Juanita, Secrets Kept, Seeking Sheba, and Sterling Madame.

Whoever lines up in the starting gate will, by trainer Larry Jones’s estimation, be meeting a champion eager and ready to get back to business.

“Mentally, she’s right where we want her,” Jones said after Monday’s work. “She’s controllable, and we know she’s fast. She’s ready to go.”

PhiloSkinner More than 1 year ago
Bridge jumpers line up. 'might' pay 2.40? but................ that's why they run the race. I agree with a comment below, she should be packing the grandstand.
therealdubwhite More than 1 year ago
MP, you should learn the game before posting naive comments, as a fan of the horse, who has stood in the winners circle with her and her connections at times, I feel that this race is well below the scoop of a race that a horse of this caliber should run in, Rachel ran in this race due to running what would be described as a career ending race in the Woodward, oh by the way I was at the 2009 Woodward, and she left her soul on that race track. As many times as people have taken shots at Jerry Moss for running Zenyatta against competition worse than the ones that HDG will take on Saturday, at least I can say for that man that he would have never ever considered entering Zenyatta in an actual optional claimer or allowance race of this nature. This is dis"Grace"ful and I as a fan of the filly who has been around the filly feel that I can and will give an opinion. There is no enjoyment in watching a horse jog 1 1/16th mile against foes that cant finish a 6f race in the times that she breezes (1:11.40), thats very sad and the fact that they avoided a graded race at a track 300 miles away and asked the FG to increase the purse of this race, well, i'll just say it wasn't the most impressive thing i've ever seen in Horse Racing.
Michael Pressley More than 1 year ago
Just enjoy the races and quit telling the participants what they should and shouldn't do.
Michael Pressley More than 1 year ago
How many people making comments here even own a horse much less the type that Havre de Grace is. Mostly stupid comments from uninformed people. Sure wish people who don't know something would keep their opinions to themselves. Why don't all of these negative people put some of their own money into the game and see how smart they really are. Of course they aren't going to do that.
David Craighead More than 1 year ago
See what I mean when I said in the past and present that races of this kind are a big joke because she's coming back off a lay-off and well rested at that and the racing secretary expects runners of lesser caliber face off with a runner like Havre de Grace ..umh just a walk over really !..
therealdubwhite More than 1 year ago
Totally different situation for a horse coming off and injury or surgery.
Darren More than 1 year ago
Nehro's return race was an optional claimer 17,500. It did attract one other solid horse coming off a layoff.
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
Wow, seems like a lot of emotional comments on HDG's 2012 debut. I simply view this a launching point; nothing more, nothing less. The mare is not 100% cranked and doesn't it make sense to get started in less than a gut wrenching spot. I agree beating allowance foes is not optimum but trainers cannot control who enters against them. As reigning HOY it would be nice if all her starts were a GR I variety sprinkled in with a few swings versus the males. HDG will surface next month in a major spot IMO. Not sure if it is the Apple Blossom or something else. I suspect when she runs versus her own sex much of the competition will go elsewhere. That will be a reoccurring theme assuming she returns the at the same level. I am taking a deep breath and letting it play out. Rest assured Larry Jones will have her at her best soon. He will have strong input into a campaign structure that will befit a champion. The fans will get a full dose of HDG in grade one spots versus top notch competition (assuming the competition chooses to enter) in 2012 including Royal Delta, Awesome Maria, and the males.
therealdubwhite More than 1 year ago
This is a Horse of the Year running in a lower level allowance race, its the most frustrating thing ever to hear of plans to have her run in this race. I think its a travesty. Horses of that nature should never be dropped in lower class of race as opposed to the G3 $150k Azeri on the same day. When did graded races become a non factor, or when did someone validate that a grade 3 is only worth 50k, the amount FG upped the purse to attract the star filly, and when did connections begin to start making request for allowance races purses to be raised to attract a certain star. I believe we have Pat Pope to thank for this move and it leaves me speechless if only he would have weighted the two fillies even weights in the Del Cap we wouldnt be having this discussion. but as it is a HOY coming back will likely face 2 optional claimers. I'll go on record as saying apologies to my questioning of Zenyatta's career by means of Jerry Moss, Moss was a coward of an owner only worried about the meaningless streak but would have never used weights as an excuse to drop a horse in class or embarrassed or tarnished Zenyatta's reputation by running her in an ungraded race, it would have never crossed his mind. Nor do i believe he would have called a track and asked for a purse to be raised in an absolutely meaningless race. Good luck to all and safe trip to the filly but, i'll be looking for news on Royal Delta. Whose connections dont play games with tracks and moan and complain about weight and arent afraid to run in legitimate Graded stakes. If you're going to cry about weight, this isn't the game for you, retire the horse if thats the case.
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
Look n fore a upset hear my deer?