07/08/2015 11:41AM

Lovely Maria big favorite in Delaware Oaks

Barbara D. Livingston
Lovely Maria wins the Kentucky Oaks on May 1 at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Larry Jones will have the home-field advantage when he sends out two of the eight runners in the $300,000 Delaware Oaks on Saturday.

Jones, who is based at Delaware Park during the summer, plans to run both Lovely Maria, the winner of the Kentucky Oaks in her last start, and White Clover, the winner of the Our Mims, the local Delaware Oaks prep.

Lovely Maria, who comes into the Delaware Oaks off two straight Grade 1 wins – she won the Ashland at Keeneland two starts ago – will be a heavy favorite. Jones is using this race to get her to the Grade 1 Alabama on Aug. 22 at Saratoga. Jones and owner Brereton Jones followed a similar but slightly different schedule in 2008 with Proud Spell.

“This path worked for us in the past, and we are hoping we can get the same results,” Jones said.

Following her Kentucky Oaks win, Proud Spell had a nightmare trip in the Mother Goose in late June and was disqualified from second to third. She then won the Delaware Oaks and Alabama and was named champion 3-year-old filly.

Kerwin Clark will be aboard Lovely Maria when she starts from post 5 as the 122-pound highweight. She will concede four to six pounds to her seven rivals.

White Clover is 2 for 2 at Delaware. She won an allowance in May and then turned back Grade 1 winner Peace and War in the Our Mims.

“White Clover is a pretty good horse,” Jones said. “She’s come to hand late, but I’m hoping she’s the horse Lovely Maria needs to beat.”

Jones has given the mount to Michael Ritvo.

Peace and War will be making her second start for Graham Motion. She showed improved tactical speed in the Our Mims, moved boldly to take the lead from White Clover entering the stretch, but was outfinished. Peace and War shipped in from Britain last fall to win the Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland.

The field also includes the fourth-, sixth-, and eighth-place finishers from the roughly run Acorn Stakes -- Danzatrice, Bar of Gold, and Calamity Kate; the 2-for-2 Hip Hop N Jazz; and Milaya, who finished fifth in the Our Mims and has won a maiden race.