07/07/2015 12:41PM

Jones girls ready to begin second seasons

Barbara D. Livingston
Lovely Maria wins the Kentucky Oaks. She is set to run Saturday in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks.

Larry Jones is ready to start the second half of his season Saturday when he runs Kentucky Oaks winner Lovely Maria in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks. He is pointing his other star filly I’m a Chatterbox to the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 26 at Saratoga.

Jones swept the winter/spring stakes for 3-year-old fillies in Louisiana and Kentucky with Lovely Maria and I’m a Chatterbox.

Lovely Maria finished second to I’m a Chatterbox in the Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds before being sent to Keeneland, where she won the Grade 1 Ashland prior to her 2 3/4-length victory in the Oaks at Churchill Downs.

I’m a Chatterbox won all three legs of the series at Fair Grounds – the Silverbulletday, Rachel Alexandra, and Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks – before finishing third in the Kentucky Oaks.

“We know we are blessed to have these two fillies come along in the same year,” Jones said Monday.

In the summer, Jones is based at Delaware Park, a scenic and tranquil place to train. There are several reason why he decided to keep Lovely Maria at home and send I’m a Chatterbox to Saratoga.

Lovely Maria is a two-time Grade 1 winner, while I’m a Chatterbox is a Grade 2 winner. The CCA Oaks gives I’m a Chatterbox an extra chance at a Grade 1 victory. It also gives her an additional two weeks between races.

“I’m a Chatterbox was extremely tired after the Oaks,” Jones said. “Lovely Maria’s eyes were brighter coming out of the race. It took I’m a Chatterbox a while to get the shine back in her coat and in her eyes.”

The Kentucky Oaks concluded busy campaigns for both fillies. For Lovely Maria, the Oaks was her eighth start in eight months. For I’m a Chatterbox, who made her first three starts for Ken McPeek, it was her seventh race in seven months.

Jones has freshened both fillies.

“After the Oaks we gave them both about a week off and just walked the shed row,” Jones said. “Then we gave them a lot of jogs and short gallops just to get them back on their schedules. We did that for a good month or so.”

The ultimate goal for both fillies is the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama at Saratoga on Aug. 22. According to Jones, the pair has more in common than their race schedules.

“There are a lot of similarities between them,” he said. “They both are very smart, and they’ll both do what you want them to do, which is maybe what has made them so effective. We don’t need a race to play out any certain way to suit them.”

Lovely Maria has had five works since June 7, and Jones is happy with how she is coming into the $300,000 Delaware Oaks.

“We breezed five horses this morning and Lovely Maria was the fastest of the five,” he said. “She’s ready to get back to work.”

Lovely Maria will face seven rivals in the Delaware Oaks, including stablemate White Clover, who has won two starts at the meet, including the Our Mims, the local Oaks prep.

The others are Bar of Gold, Danzatrice, and Calamity Kate, who all exit the Acorn at Belmont Park; Alcibiades winner Peace and War; Hip Hop N Jazz, who is 2 for 2 with wins at Pimlico and Monmouth; and recent Delaware maiden winner Milaya.