05/24/2010 11:00PM

Jones keeping up with best


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Trainer Marty Jones could not stop moving.

Last Sunday seemed like a hectic morning at his Hollywood Park stable, with seemingly every aspect of the 40-horse stable needing attention. Horses such as Compari, who starts in Monday's Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile, were coming and going from the racetrack. There was constant communication with stable staff, occasional calls from owners, and a visit from the official veterinarian for an inspection of a horse racing that afternoon.

The energy seemed to feed on itself. No wonder Jones's mornings seem to fly by. No wonder he is having a career-best season in 2010. Through Sunday, Jones has won a personal-best seven stakes this year, two more than in all of his previous best season, 2005. His stable has earned $789,341, which puts him on course to beat the personal best of $1,614,202 from 2005, the year the sprinting filly Alphabet Kisses led the stable.

"I don't think I envisioned things going quite this well," he said while walking to the track to watch a 2-year-old filly breeze three furlongs. "I had some nice horses. This was a good way to start the year. You have to keep moving forward. Hopefully, we can keep it going."

Compari and Unzip Me have led the way for the stable.

Unzip Me extended her winning streak to five races in the Great Lady M Stakes for female turf sprinters last Friday evening. Earlier this year, she won two stakes at Santa Anita, including the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap on the hillside turf course. Jones is at a loss for her next -- stay in turf sprints for females, which are infrequent, or try a two-turn race?

"It's tough to figure out what to do," he said. "She's a special filly."

Compari will be after his fourth stakes win of the year in the Shoemaker Mile, his first start in a Grade 1. Plagued by foot problems last year after winning the Snow Chief Stakes for statebred 3-year-olds, Compari returned to racing with a win in an allowance race here last fall before reeling off three consecutive stakes wins at Santa Anita. He dominated statebreds in the Sensational Star and Crystal Water handicaps before successfully making the jump to graded stakes competition in the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap on the Santa Anita Derby undercard on April 3.

In late April, however, there was a scare. On the morning of the Grade 3 Inglewood Handicap on April 25, a race in which Compari was the morning-line favorite, he was scratched because of concern over a leg. It was the sort of announcement that could have been followed days later by another, explaining that a horse needed a rest. Fortunately for Jones and the partnership that owns the 4-year-old -- breeders John Harris, John Nicoletti and Don Valpredo -- is was only a minor issue, and Compari was back in training within days.

"He had a little filling," Jones said. "We didn't want to take any chances. He was never sore or anything."

Compari has had four subsequent workouts, with another scheduled this week.

Jones considered the Arcadia to be a "big jump for that horse," and looks at the Shoemaker Mile in the same context. "This is another jump in this race, and this will be tougher," he said. "He's going to have to improve to win something like that.

"He seems like he's doing well. Hopefully, he transfers his Santa Anita form to the Hollywood Park turf. That's about the only change we're doing."

Compari will be ridden by Joel Rosario, who replaces Garrett Gomez, who is now based on the East Coast. Rosario, who has worked Compari in recent weeks, rode the gelding to his only loss, a third-place finish in his debut in February 2009. Since then, Compari has won six consecutive races.

For Jones, 38, Compari could be his first Grade 1 winner since Bilo won the Triple Bend Handicap in 2007, and the fourth winner of his career at that level.

When he began training in 1996, Marty Jones would reach out to his father, the retired trainer Gary Jones, for advice on such top-level horses. Today, he says their relationship is more father-son than trainer-trainer.

"When I first got going we talked a lot about the horses because he'd had a lot of them," he said.

Now, Jones is more on his own, and staying busy. The 40-horse stable is a high number for a team that has typically had 30 runners, not bad considering many trainers are struggling to attract clients in a brutal economy.

Jones is assisted by Martel Castenada. Their work has intensified with a larger stable and the death of a heart attack earlier this year of foreman Luis Solorzano.

"It's been a difficult year, highs and lows," Jones said, speaking on a more personal note for the stable staff. "Everyone is doing a good job at the barn. If you got a good crew and good horses you can win some races."

With that, Jones began walking from the racetrack to the racing office to enter a horse. He has talked of taking a few days off, maybe sneaking off for a quick fishing trip, but that will have to wait at least for a few weeks. Marty Jones has no time to stop.