12/05/2007 1:00AM

Honest Man tries to get a win for Jones

EmailTrainer Larry Jones has never stabled at Fair Grounds before, and the horses he brought here this season didn't settle seamlessly into place. Jones had been based at Delaware Park, necessitating a cross-country van ride for his stock, and a significant change in climate zones, from the mid-Atlantic to the Gulf Coast.

"All our horses have taken a little while to adapt," Jones said. "The weather, that 1,200 miles of hauling - they were a little tired."

From six starters so far at Fair Grounds, the Jones stable's best finishes have been two seconds, but Jones hopes to break into the win column with Honest Man in Friday's featured ninth race.

"He's doing as well as anybody we've sent down here," said Jones.

A sharp Honest Man should be good enough to win an entry-level allowance race carded for one mile on dirt. Honest Man, a $700,000 Unbridled's Song yearling back in 2005, required three tries to win a maiden race, but wasted no time leaving the ranks of the winless once Jones stretched him out to two turns. Honest Man dominated Philadelphia Park maidens going 1 1/16 miles in his most recent try.

"The horse got to me later on during his 3-year-old year, and he had some issues that kept him away from the races for a while," Jones said. "We needed to get him into the line of fire with those sprints rather than training him straight up to the route."

Honest Man has tactical speed, post 3, and Jones's regular rider, Gabriel Saez, who also seeks his first Fair Grounds victory. He also has plenty of competition in a race that drew a field of 10.

Breaking just inside Honest Man will be Nereus, a horse with a much less gaudy purchase history - GAL Racing Stable and trainer Tom Amoss claimed him for $50,000 Aug.o31 at Arlington - but perhaps as good a chance to win. Nereus made his first start for Amoss on Sept. 21 at Presque Isle, setting the pace and holding third in a two-turn entry-level allowance. His recent main-track works suggest Nereus may carry synthetic-track and turf form onto dirt.

"We're trying to expand him to see if he can handle dirt," Amoss said. "Do we know if he can do it? No."