03/20/2012 2:33PM

Fair Grounds: Mark Valeski among three big workers for busy Jones barn

Lynn Roberts
Mark Valeski (right) runs second to El Padrino in the in the Risen Star.

Say this for trainer Larry Jones. He knows how to stay busy.

Saturday, Jones saddled 2011 Horse of the Year to an easy victory in the New Orleans Ladies Stakes, her 2012 debut. Monday, Jones hooked his horse trailer up to his pickup and drove from New Orleans to Hot Springs, Ark., where Joyful Victory had finished third on Saturday in the Azeri Stakes. Jones pulled into the barn area, loaded up Joyful Victory, and not long after was headed south again, arriving at Fair Grounds in the evening.

The pace didn’t slacken Tuesday morning. In the day’s first training set, Jones sent out Lecomte Stakes winner Mr. Bowling for a five-furlong work. After the daily renovation break, out came Silverbulletday Stakes winner Believe You Can as well as Mark Valeski, the Risen Star Stakes runner-up who projects as no worse than second choice April 1 in the $1 million Louisiana Derby. Believe You Can went five-eighths in 1:00.40, while Mark Valeski smoked the same distance a bullet 59.40 seconds, the morning’s best work at the distance.

“He worked very well,” Jones said of Mark Valeski. “It was a little quicker than what we had scheduled. We were thinking something between 1:00 and 1:01, like the filly did. But he did it well and he finished up really nice. Needless to say, I think he’s getting better. Two months ago if you worked him that fast you would’ve been able to tell it.”

Rosie Napravnik worked both Mark Valeski and Believe You Can, and is scheduled to ride both of them on closing weekend at Fair Grounds. Believe You Can races March 31 in the Fair Grounds Oaks.

Mr. Bowling, Jones said, remains on course to start in the Louisiana Derby despite finishing 11th in the Risen Star Stakes and working five furlongs in a slow 1:03 Tuesday.

“Mr. Bowling, he never has been a good work horse by himself, and he proved that today,” Jones said. “We were looking for easy works for all of them, but he took that to the extreme. He just kind of loped himself around there. Next week, without a doubt, he’ll work in company.”

Jones said Mr. Bowling and Believe You Can would probably work together on Monday. Mark Valeski will have his final breeze for the Louisiana Derby on Tuesday.

Work will tell for Cigar Street

The Louisiana Derby status of impressive Fair Grounds maiden-route winner Cigar Street will be firmed up after a Friday workout, trainer Steve Margolis said Monday.

“We’re just trying to see what the best option is,” Margolis said. “There’s the Illinois Derby and the Arkansas Derby, too, so there are options. We’ve got to get him through the work and then sit down and talk.”

◗ Trainer Mike Maker confirmed Tuesday that Small Kitchen will make her next start in the Fair Grounds Oaks. Small Kitchen debuted with a 5 3/4-length win Feb. 2 at Fair Grounds and won a first-level sprint allowance race March 4 by more than seven lengths. Rosie Napravnik, aboard for both races, is committed to Believe You Can for the Fair Grounds Oaks, so Small Kitchen will need a new rider.