03/08/2011 1:42PM

Havre de Grace sharp in work for Azeri start

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Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Havre de Grace, Jeremy Rose up, wins the Fitz Dixon Cotillion.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Havre de Grace looked every bit the part of one of the nation's top fillies on Tuesday morning, when she breezed five furlongs in a bullet 59.40 seconds at Oaklawn Park. It was her final serious prep for the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri here March 19.

"Right now, she just looks like she's phenomenal," trainer Larry Jones said following the work Tuesday.

The Azeri will be Havre de Grace's first start of the year and first for Jones, who took over her training in January after she began her career with Tony Dutrow. Havre de Grace was third in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic in her last start Nov. 5. Before that race, she won the Grade 2 Fitz Dixon Cotillion over future champion Blind Luck. The Azeri is expected to serve as Havre de Grace's springboard to the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn on April 15.

Havre de Grace worked shortly after the track opened, on an overcast, misty, 47-degree morning in which the track was listed as fast. She went in company with Grade 2 winner Payton d'Oro, and in the stretch overtook her workmate in hand. Payton d'Oro was credited with the second-fastest five-furlong move of the morning, breezing in 1:00.20.

"Payton worked great today," said Jones. "She worked well, and Havre de Grace just galloped away from her. And Payton worked great . . . she's training better right now than she's ever trained."

Jones had been considering the Azeri for Payton d'Oro, too, but in light of the work Tuesday he said he would most likely look for another spot for Payton d'Oro. She will be making her first start since winning the Bayakoa at Oaklawn in 2010.

Jockey Jenna Joubert worked Havre de Grace, while Ramon Dominguez has the mount in the Azeri. Terry Thompson was on Payton d'Oro. Havre de Grace is to have one more breeze before the Azeri.

"She worked good enough today that next week can just be a so-so work for Havre de Grace," Jones said. "We've got her where we want her now."