03/23/2008 11:00PM

Jones bolsters his string for stakes


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Trainer Larry Jones has won three stakes races from seven stakes starters this meet at Oaklawn Park, and he will be looking to add to his strong record over the final three weeks of the season. He recently shipped in several horses for upcoming local stakes from his division at Fair Grounds, which ended its meet Sunday.

"We brought up a load," he said.

Among them is Honest Man, who won all three of his starts at Fair Grounds. In his most recent out, he won a March 7 optional claimer and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 102.

"He did it well within himself," said Jones, who is pointing the horse for the $100,000 Fifth Season at 1 1/16 miles for 4-year-olds and up on April 11.

Buy the Barrel, who became a stakes winner in January with an 8 1/2-length score in the $50,000 Sam Houston Distaff at Sam Houston Race Park, is being pointed for the $100,000 Bayakoa here April 9. Jones won the 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares last year with Gasia.

Eagle's Song and My Heavenly Sign, a pair of 3-year-old fillies who won first-level allowances in their last starts at Fair Grounds, both have their sights set on Oaklawn stakes. Jones said Eagle's Song is being pointed for the $75,000 Instant Racing at a mile here April 12. He said My Heavenly Sign would probably run in the $50,000 Prima Donna at six furlongs April 11.

Ferragamo, who has been based at Oaklawn, is being pointed for the $75,000 Northern Spur for 3-year-olds on April 12, Jones said. The horse has won both of his starts at the meet, including the $50,000 Mountain Valley at six furlongs on Feb. 23 with a Beyer of 96. He will be making his two-turn debut in the one-mile Northern Spur.

Jones's other stakes wins at the meet came with leading Kentucky Oaks candidate Eight Belles. She won the $50,000 Martha Washington by 13 1/2 lengths Feb. 17 and then took the Grade 3, $100,000 Honeybee Stakes on March 16.

Ark. Derby an option for Shekinah

Shekinah, a 3-year-old who looked good defeating some quality 4-year-olds in a first-level allowance here March 16, will be considered for the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 12, trainer Dallas Stewart said. The horse dueled in the one-mile allowance, then went on to a three-length win under Calvin Borel, earning a career-best Beyer of 92.

"We're looking at our options, either the Northern Spur or the Arkansas Derby," said Stewart, who trains Shekinah for Horton Stable. "He handled himself real well the other day. He stepped up his game."

Shekinah had finished fourth to My Pal Charlie in an allowance at Fair Grounds one start before his Oaklawn win. Following their meeting, My Pal Charlie ran second in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. Shekinah is by Johannesburg. His dam, Private Pursuit, was Grade 2-placed and earned $190,664.

Stewart said Sacred Journey will cut back to a sprint distance for his next start. He set the pace in both the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes, in which he finished in a dead-heat for third, and the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel, in which he finished ninth. Sacred Journey will likely run in the $100,000 Lafayette at seven furlongs at Keeneland on April 6, Stewart said.

Gasia, Ginger Bay retired

Gasia and Ginger Bay, who have each won stakes at Oaklawn, have both recently been retired. Gasia, who was scratched from the Grade 3, $175,000 Azeri Breeders' Cup here March 9, has been sent to Lexington, Ky., and is scheduled to be bred, Jones said.

"She had fractured a splint bone the day before that race," he said of the scratch from the Azeri.

Gasia's stakes wins included the Bayakoa here last year and the Instant Racing here in 2007. Overall, she won 6 of 18 starts and $434,231. One start prior to the Azeri, she had finished second to Grade 2 winner Kettleoneup in the $50,000 Pippin Stakes. Gasia, a 5-year-old mare by Silver Deputy, is owned by Susan Knoll.

Ginger Bay won both of her starts at the meet, her most recent a dead-heat win with Classify in the $50,000 Spring Fever in her stakes debut here March 1. For the victory, she earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 99. Tony Reinstedler, who trains Ginger Bay, said she came out of the Spring Fever with a bone chip in her left knee. He said plans are to breed Ginger Bay, a 4-year-old by Golden Missile owned by Melnyk Racing Stables.

"I was happy to see her go out a stakes winner," Reinstedler said.

Reporting for Duty to Oaklawn

Reporting for Duty, who closed for third in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on Marcho8, is being considered for the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap on April 5, trainer Steve Asmussen said. Reporting for Duty earned a career-best Beyer of 100 in the New Orleans Handicap, which came one start after his victory in the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park in January.

* Jonesboro, who worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds here Friday, remains on target for the Oaklawn Handicap, trainer Randy Morse said. In his last start, the horse won the Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup at Oaklawn with a Beyer of 100.