11/06/2009 12:00AM

Jones in a tough spot for his finale


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Last month, trainer Larry Jones planned for Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Chilukki Stakes at Churchill Downs to be his last race. The spot looked perfect for Payton d'Oro and Jones, who is retiring and turning his stable over to his wife, Cindy.

The thinking was Payton d'Oro could capitalize by avoiding the high-quality fillies and mares racing in California in the Breeders' Cup, and Jones could potentially end his training career with a stakes winner at Churchill Downs, where he started his first horse in 1982.

Problem is, his fellow trainers also found the Chilukki an attractive spot.

Eight other talented fillies and mares were entered versus Payton d'Oro - seven of whom have won stakes, led by graded winners One Caroline, Be Fair, Swift Temper, and Dubai Majesty.

"On the Menu might have to be my last starter," Jones said, referring to his entrant in the preceding race on the card, the Dream Supreme Stakes.

He said he is concerned about running a 3-year-old filly like Payton d'Oro against such a talented group of older horses, and would discuss the possibility of scratching with her owners, a group headed by longtime Jones client Michael Pressley.

Payton d'Oro has won three stakes races this year, including the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico. But her top Beyer Speed Figure, a 94 posted in winning the Black-Eyed Susan, trails the top dirt figures of race favorites One Caroline and Swift Temper.

Swift Temper, returning to dirt after fading to 10th over Polytrack in the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland, figures to be a force in the Chilukki. She has enjoyed her best year in 2009, winning more than $1 million with victories in the Sixty Sails, Delaware Handicap, and Grade 1 Ruffian.

One Caroline also looms a contender in her first start since being defeated for the first time in her career. She finished second to the rail-skimming Miss Isella in the May 1 Louisville Breeders' Cup. A winner of 5 of 6 starts, One Caroline has impressed onlookers with her morning drills at Keeneland.

* The Jones-trained On the Menu also faces a tough assignment in the Dream Supreme, a six-furlong dash that drew 13 entrants but will have no more than 12.

* Five-time stakes winner Classify died of a heart attack Thursday morning at Churchill, said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen.