07/11/2008 11:00PM

Jones: Proud Spell fit for a start in Oaks


Will trainer Larry Jones really run the Kentucky Oaks winner Proud Spell in Saturday's Delaware Oaks, just 16 days after she sustained cuts on her ankle and knee in the Mother Goose at Belmont Park?

Or will Jones simply take his chances with his second-string 3-year-old filly Maren's Meadow?

The answers to those questions will remain a mystery until scratch time on Saturday at Delaware Park, where the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaks headlines a card that includes the Grade 3, $300,000 Robert Dick Memorial Handicap for fillies and mares, and the $100,000 R.R.M. Carpenter Jr. Stakes for older males.

As of midweek, Jones indicated that he was leaning toward running both Proud Spell and Maren's Meadow.

"It was a last-minute decision to go ahead and enter," Jones said of Proud Spell, whose 5 wins in 9 starts include a five-length score in the Kentucky Oaks and a 2 1/4-length triumph in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks. "She acts like she's ready to get it on."

Jones said Proud Spell, who was disqualified and placed third in the Mother Goose for bearing out into the path of Never Retreat in the stretch, healed quickly from the injuries she sustained when she fell coming out of the gate.

If Proud Spell runs, Jones would have two of the eight fillies in the 1 1/16-mile Delaware Oaks.

"We are very much looking at running both of them," Jones said. "You know Maren's Meadow and Proud Spell have different styles of running. I don't think that they would interfere with each other in the least. And they could complement each other."

Maren's Meadow does her best running when she can get the early lead, as when she won the Grade 3 Bourbonette Oaks on Turfway Park's Polytrack in March. The Bourbonette was slowly run, and the fillies she beat went a collective 0 for 8 in their next starts.

"She likes to be loose on the front end; could very well find herself doing just that," Jones said.

Gabriel Saez, given his choice of mounts if Jones runs both fillies, presumably will pick Proud Spell. Jones has not yet lined up a replacement rider for Maren's Meadow.

If Proud Spell is scratched, it would help the chances of front-running Weathered and Florida-based stalker Shes All Eltish.

Weathered, based at Suffolk Downs with trainer Karl Grausmark, got away with slow fractions of 50.16 seconds and 1:13.38 en route to a 4 1/2-length score in the $175,000 Susan's Girl at Delaware on June 14.

She may face more pace pressure this time from African Violet, who was kept off the slow pace in the Susan's Girl by jockey Ramon Dominguez. Trainer Graham Motion has given the mount on African Violet to Cornelio Velasquez.

"I think Ramon probably kicked himself a little bit for not letting her go on early," Motion said of his ride on African Violet. "But hindsight is 20/20."

Shes All Eltish, second in the Black-Eyed Susan last time out, dominated the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream Park in late March. Her trainer, Marty Wolfson, has run only two horses in dirt races at Delaware in the past five years, including Vision in Flight, who was second in the Grade 3 Endine at 9-1 in 2003.