01/20/2009 12:00AM

Jones flush with capable 3-year-olds


Would it be going too far to say that trainer Larry Jones is kind of loaded?

Old Fashioned, surely one of the top 3-year-old prospects in the land, had his second timed workout of 2009 on Sunday at Fair Grounds, and he is only one of several stakes-class Jones-trained 3-year-olds in New Orleans. It Happened Again rebounded from a disappointing performance in the Sugar Bowl Stakes on Dec. 20 at Fair Grounds and scored an impressive two-length win Friday night in the Triple Sec Stakes at Delta.

Pooh-pooh the minor western Louisiana racing all you want, but the Triple Sec had a legitimate 10-horse field much deeper than the typical major-venue 3-year-old entry-level allowance race this time of year. With It Happened Again stepping up, Jones now is likely to have two starters in the Feb. 7 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, with this colt joining Lecomte winner Friesan Fire in the race, Jones said.

On the 3-year-old filly end, Just Jenda, Jones confirmed, will run back in the Feb. 7 Silverbulletday after winning the Tiffany Lass on Jan. 10, and On the Menu actually ran well in defeat Friday at Delta, finishing second by a neck in the $50,000 Genesis, which was a pretty fast race.

Honest Man figures to be a major player in the Mineshaft Handicap, also on Feb. 7, and to top it off, 2008 Eclipse Award finalist Proud Spell has rejoined Jones's Fair Grounds string, where she is galloping toward her 2009 debut, along with Kodiak Kowboy, who also has made his way to New Orleans after a mid-winter freshening.

As for It Happened Again, he was stuck behind horses in the Sugar Bowl, and basically never showed up in the stretch run.

"We just had fought with him enough - we took all the fire out of him that day," Jones said. "Thank goodness he bounced back at Delta. There's a good shot he'll come back in the Risen Star."

Gabriel Saez rode both Friesan Fire and It Happened Again in their recent victories. Jones said Saez probably would end up on Friesan Fire in the Risen Star.

Meanwhile, Old Fashioned, coming back 11 days after a moderate half-mile breeze, worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Sunday.

"All went well," said Jones "He got a good little blower out of it. We'll start getting a little more steady with him now, start picking him up a little bit."

Jones said Jan. 28 is the target date for Old Fashioned to ship to Oaklawn Park, where he will make his 3-year-old debut in the Feb. 16 Southwest Stakes. The colt's next work, Jones said, might not come until after he leaves Fair Grounds.

Asmussen bags eight wins in one day

To take the sternest possible glass-half-empty view of things, Steve Asmussen lost 11 races across the country on Saturday. It is also worth noting that Asmussen won eight others.

Yes, one day, eight victories, and business as usual in the land of Asmussen, who already has racked up 39 victories at the Fair Grounds meet. Six of them came on Saturday's card, which was a little ironic, since the Saturday before, Asmussen had horses in 10 Fair Grounds races, but managed only one victory on that multi-stakes card. On Saturday, he captured the Truly Bound with Rolling Sea, who ran one of the better races of her career, and he also won with four 3-year-olds, all of whom looked at least mildly promising.

Farthest along in that group of his 3-year-olds is Nuclear Wayne, who easily won an entry-level sprint allowance while running six furlongs in 1:09.87. The Beyer Speed Figure people worked that into a figure of 96, the third-fastest Beyer by a 3-year-old so far this year. Owned by the Stonestreet Stables, Nuclear Wayne is by Mineshaft, which suggests route racing, but Asmussen said no specific plans had been laid for Nuclear Wayne's next start.

"He's awesome," Asmussen said. "We'll take our time and try and get to the highest level with him. He's a very fast horse, and he's got obvious speed. Let him keep developing, and we'll be okay."

Rolling Sea, who overcame a difficult start to easily beat heavily favored Bear Now in the Truly Bound Handicap, now has won 4 of her 5 Fair Grounds races, and is on course to run back in the Chou Croute Handicap later this meet.

Grasshopper sharp in drill

Grasshopper had a powerhouse six-furlong work on Tuesday morning at Fair Grounds, and might be coming along quickly enough to try to win the Mineshaft Handicap for the second year in a row.

Grasshopper won the Mineshaft in February and took a tough beat in the New Orleans Handicap, but failed to show his best in five subsequent starts and was given a break after finishing second in the Iselin Handicap in August.

"The break has done him good," trainer Neil Howard said. "He's filled out a little bit and come back beautifully."

With Robby Albarado up, Grasshopper was timed in 1:12.60 Tuesday, a very fast drill by Fair Grounds standards. Howard said Grasshopper went his final three furlongs in a little over 35 seconds.

"The Mineshaft would be the obvious place, but we haven't committed to it yet," said Howard.

Howard's other handicap horse, Mambo in Seattle, had an easy three-furlong work Sunday morning at Tampa Bay Downs. Mambo in Seattle went to Kentucky to have a partially undescended testicle removed in December, and was away when Howard's barn was quarantined after a Dallas Stewart-trained horse tested positive for herpes on Dec. 24.

Mambo in Seattle jogged at Keeneland after quickly recovering from his minor surgery, and was sent to trainer Mike Zweisler at Tampa in order to further his training until Fair Grounds was cleared of any traces of equine herpesvirus.

"He'll be back here in the barn next week," Howard said.