04/27/2009 11:00PM

Jonesboro looking like a million


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Back in 2005, there was some question as to whether a 3-year-old Jonesboro would ever race again after he fractured a cannon bone while winning the first stakes of his career, the $75,000 Northern Spur at Oaklawn Park. Fast-forward to Saturday and the horse, now 7, thrilled his connections by becoming a millionaire with a hard-fought, half-length win in the Grade 3, $300,000 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park.

It was the ninth stakes win for Jonesboro, who over the past several years has established himself as one of the more consistent handicap horses in the Midwest. Saturday, he turned in perhaps the most determined performance of his career. Jonesboro, who tends to set or track the pace, closed from more than six lengths back after being carried well wide into the first turn of the Texas Mile.

"Where he was up the backside and going into the far turn, it looked pretty grim for him," said Randy Morse, who trains Jonesboro for Michael Langford. "But to me, he showed his class. He just showed a lot of heart and determination and grinded it out."

"You can't count him out," said Langford.

Langford purchased Jonesboro as a yearling at Keeneland in 2003, for $27,000, and named him for his hometown in Arkansas. Morse said pedigree was a big part of the horse's appeal, as he is out of the champion racemare Mom's Command. Jonesboro won his maiden in a 1 1/16-mile race at Oaklawn in 2005, then one race later won the Northern Spur by three lengths, with a strong Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

The excitement for his future was short-lived, however, when the horse was found to have fractured his right front cannon bone.

"There was a real good chance that he might not ever race again," said Morse.

Jonesboro caught a break, though, as there was a plane in town to carry some of the horses who had run the same day in the Arkansas Derby back to Kentucky, where Jonesboro was to have surgery at a top equine hospital. The flight was easier on the injured horse than vanning would have been, and it saved time, too.

He made a full recovery, and has gone on to rack up such noted handicap wins as the Essex and Razorback, both graded races at Oaklawn. His richest score came Saturday in the Texas Mile, propelling him to the status of millionaire, Morse's second such runner behind Morluc.

Morse, who was born outside of El Paso, Texas, has moved a division into Lone Star for the first time this season. He said the next logical spot for Jonesboro would be the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on May 25. But right now, Morse is still savoring the Texas Mile.

"It made my meet," he said.

Kays and Jays sizzles

Kays and Jays put up the second-best Beyer Figure for a 3-year-old filly so far this year when she earned a 105 for her 9 1/2-length romp in the $50,000 Richland Hills here Saturday. In from Southern California, she pushed a hot pace and finished with authority to win the six furlong race in 1:08.78.

"We were all happy with how she did it," said Mike Mitchell, who trains Kays and Jays for Zayat Stables. "Hopefully, she's got bigger and better things to do. We've got to kind of look at trying her in a graded race of some kind. I think she'll stretch out. I probably would leave her on a synthetic track right now, but she did win on the turf, too. But I prefer to keep her on dirt or synthetic."

Mitchell said she will be considered for the Grade 2, $150,000 Hollywood Oaks at a 1 1/16 miles at on June 7. She was to return to her Hollywood Park base Wednesday.

Elusive Heat owns the top 3-year-old filly Beyer, getting a 107 for an allowance win at Gulfstream Park.

* Judys Cure, whose brother Rare Cure was a multiple route stakes winner of more than $500,000, will make her two-turn debut in the eighth race on Thursday night, a first-level allowance for fillies and mares bred in Texas. Bryan McNeil has the mount for Larry Dyson and trainer Joe Petalino.