04/04/2015 5:17PM

Lovely Maria gives Jones first Ashland win

Coady Photography
Lovely Maria wins the Ashland Stakes by 3 1/4 lengths Saturday, giving jockey Kerwin Clark his first Grade 1 victory.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Trainer Larry Jones already had one of the favorites for the May 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs with I’m a Chatterbox. Now, after a dominant victory from Lovely Maria in Saturday’s Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, he has two.

Rating kindly in third early behind a moderate pace, Lovely Maria went after leader Angela Renee on the second turn when given a cue by jockey Kerwin Clark and pulled away in the lane to score by 3 1/4 lengths. A daughter of Majesticperfection, she raced 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.66, paying $5.60 as the favorite in the field of seven.

Angela Renee finished a clear second and was followed by Silverpocketsfull, Lassofthemohicans, West Coast Belle, Temper Mint Patty, and Peace and War.

The victory from Lovely Maria gave Jones and owner and former Kentucky Gov. Brereton Jones their first win in the Ashland. And the win was even more noteworthy for Clark, a 55-year-old veteran rider who picked up his first Grade 1 victory after rarely getting such opportunities in major stakes.

“It’s been 40 years in the making,” he said. “I just thank God for Mr. Brereton Jones and Mr. Larry Jones. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them. They’re great people. They’ve made me a better person and a better rider.”

The Ashland, sponsored by Central Bank and carrying a purse of $500,000, was a Kentucky Oaks qualifying race, providing eligibility points that determine preference if the Oaks is oversubscribed. Lovely Maria earned 100 points, Angela Renee, 40; Silverpocketsfull, 20; and Lassofthemohicans, 10.

Not earning any points was Peace and War, a British invader whose connections had hoped she could compete in the Kentucky Oaks. She won the Grade 1 Alcibiades last fall at Keeneland at age 2 but was rank in traffic for much of Saturday’s race and didn’t respond late.

The one-two finish from Lovely Maria and Angela Renee validated the form of the fillies who raced at Fair Grounds this winter. Both had run behind I’m a Chatterbox in the Grade 3 Rachael Alexandra on Feb. 21, with Lovely Maria finishing second and Angela Renee a close fourth.

I’m a  Chatterbox subsequently won the Fair Grounds Oaks.