02/09/2012 3:07PM

Fair Grounds: Joyful Victory, Ravi's Song shaky favorites in Tiffany Lass

Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography
Joyful Victory has yet to regain the form she displayed early in her 3-year-old season in 2011.

It would be much easier to have confidence in the two favorites for Saturday’s $75,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes, Joyful Victory and Ravi’s Song, if the race were being run a year ago.

Last March and April, Joyful Victory won a pair of stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Oaklawn Park by more than 15 lengths combined, making her the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks. And last February and March, Ravi’s Song won a pair of dirt-route stakes for older females at Fair Grounds, showing off a strong stretch kick in both races.

Neither horse, though, has won any kind of race since those peak performances, and in the Tiffany Lass, Joyful Victory is out to prove the promise she showed at 3 can translate into success at 4, while Ravi’s Song looks to rebound from a sub-par showing as the odds-on favorite in the Blushing K.D. Handicap on Dec. 17 at Fair Grounds.

Only five others were entered in the Tiffany Lass, a 1 1/16-mile dirt race, and none provides an especially appealing alternative to the top pair. The 4-year-old Juanita has been ascendant since trainer Mike Maker claimed her for $25,000 last March, but her strength is early speed, and Fighter Wing figures to keep Juanita honest on the front end.

Joyful Victory wound up finishing a close fourth in the Kentucky Oaks, but she didn’t progress from there, and after a distant fifth-place finish in the July 23 Coaching Club American Oaks, Joyful Victory was taken out of training to have a bone chip surgically removed from her knee. Much time was taken bringing Joyful Victory back to the races, but finding a suitable comeback spot proved no easy task, trainer Larry Jones settling on a third-level turf allowance race Jan. 11. It would have been nice if rain had moved the race to the main track, but it didn’t, and Joyful Victory – not unpredictably -- checked in a so-so second. Given the unfamiliar racing surface, the loss wasn’t that discouraging, and Joyful Victory has come back with strong workouts while Jones’s stable has come alive at the meet.

Ravi’s Song’s most recent race also came over the Fair Grounds grass, but hers was a clunker, a flat ninth-place finish as the 4-5 Blushing K.D. favorite. There’s a chance that Ravi’s Song, a 6-year-old trained by Carl Bowman, didn’t handle a yielding turf course that afternoon, and the mare returned to the work tab less than two weeks later. A return to her best form would put Ravi’s Song on close to equal footing with the best Joyful Victory has shown. But until the Tiffany Lass actually gets run, it’s simply difficult to say with certainty what either horse is going to show.