11/21/2007 12:00AM

Jones's stable of 30 ready to run

EmailNEW ORLEANS - There was a time when Larry Jones ran a modest stable out of sleepy venues like Ellis Park. That time is long past.

Thrust into the national spotlight this season with the wickedly good Hard Spun, Jones has seen his stable swell to a career-high 70 horses this winter - which is why he has taken out 30 stalls at Fair Grounds, his first meet-long foray into racing in New Orleans.

Jones is a winter regular at Oaklawn Park, which begins racing in January, and he will have a full complement of 40 stalls there this year, too. Late Wednesday, Jones was obtaining Louisiana racing licenses on the Fair Grounds backstretch - one of a million responsibilities with so many horses under his care.

"It's the most I've ever had, and it's as much as I want," Jones said. "I don't know how the Pletchers and the Asmussens do it."

Jones, who had about 50 horses at this time last year, said he didn't have a host of new owners, just regular clients with a greater number of horses.

"We always carry a lot of young horses, and we haven't retired as many this year," Jones said.

Jones said that many of his horses that were going strong through the last half of this year have been sent to Oaklawn, where they're resting up until training begins there. At Fair Grounds, Jones has horses that will see racing action now or in the near future.

"Right now, we have horses here that are ready to run," he said. "All our turf horses are here, of course, and a lot of young horses with one or two starts."

Jones said that Proud Spell, who won the Grade 2 Matron and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in her last start, will be coming directly to Fair Grounds following a layoff at Airdrie Stud in Kentucky. Proud Spell should arrive in mid-December, Jones said, and could target the Feb. 9 Silverbulletday Stakes for her 2007 debut.

Ceasers March works toward return

Few horses here last season made a sharper first impression than the 3-year-old Ceasers March, and the fact that the horse was a Louisiana-bred boded well for his future. But after his strong Fair Grounds meet, Ceasers March shipped to Kentucky for the Derby Trial, got drummed in the race, and was never the same, losing twice as the odds-on favorite in statebred-restricted races at Louisiana Downs.

Ceasers March is back now, working toward his first start since mid-summer, but trainer Bret Calhoun said Ceasers March would not be ready for Louisiana Champions Day early next month. Ceasers March has posted four timed workouts for his comeback and has been blazing in the morning; his half-mile drill in 46.60 seconds on Nov. 10 was the fastest of 71 works at the distance.

"He's training phenomenally," Calhoun said, "as well or better than he did before."

Ceasers March should be ready to run soon enough, and for the time being, Calhoun said, would be kept to Louisiana-bred company, even though he may be good enough for open stakes at some point.

Calhoun also is looking forward to the return of 2-year-old Gold Coyote, who turned in a disappointing loss as the even-money favorite in the Arlington-Washington Futurity on Sept. 1. Calhoun is convinced Gold Coyote didn't handle Polytrack in his Chicago start, and will be a better horse back on dirt. The one-mile Lecomte Jan. 12 would provide a good spot for Gold Coyote's return, but Calhoun doubts that the horse will be ready for the race.

'Tensas' targets Champions Day

Ceasers March is hardly the only talented Louisiana-bred sprinter who has been on holiday. Two such animals - and perhaps the best of them - Cort's P.B. and Brother Bean haven't posted any works in several months and won't be heard from soon.

Others, like Fair Grounds-based stakes winner Fass Feat, are well along in their works, and figure to be ready for Champions Day. And one final Louisiana-bred sprinter to watch for is Tensas Phone Call, who still has a chance to make the Champions Day Sprint, trainer Troy Young said.

Tensas Phone Call won his first three starts last year by open lengths, but came out of a disappointing loss here late last meet with a severe lung infection. Back from a six-month break, Tensas Phone Call ran poorly in September at Evangeline Downs, but Young said the horse has been turning in strong breezes.

"I've been having respiratory problems with him, but the plan still is to get him ready for Champions Day," Young said.

Zimmerman to serve days

Jockey Ramsey Zimmerman, who jumped up with a surprising 41-win meet here last season, is back for another year, but Zimmerman must sit chilly until next Thursday, sitting out a suspension handed to him at the end of the last Fair Grounds meet.

"I'm here, but I have to wait," said Zimmerman, who has ridden at Lone Star and Remington since leaving Fair Grounds this past spring.

Zimmerman was well supported this summer by trainers Cody Autrey and Bret Calhoun, both of whom figure to win plenty of races this meet.

Also looking forward to the winter is Eddie Martin, who last rode here in 2004-2005. Martin rode at Turfway the year Fair Grounds moved to Louisiana Downs and had a productive winter at Aqueduct last season. But Martin, who was raised not far from Fair Grounds, is back in New Orleans.

"It's good to come home," Martin said.